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Dr. John Gone

Back in the 70s Mac Rabanack broke out as a colorful performer, who went by the name of Dr. John and the Night Trippers. Sometimes Dr. John took the persona of the Night Tripper and at other times it was the name for his back-up band.



The News

It just happened yesterday and it didn’t take long for word to get around. Mac Rebennack, better known the world over as Dr. John, has passed away at age 77. I can’t quite imagine what New Orleans is like right now, but I have a suspicion, that the city is mourning his passing, while at the same time, also preparing for one heck of a jazz funeral. Basically, Doctor John put New Orleans music on the map. With its lively street life, bigtime Mardi Gras celebration, funky cuisine, swank jazz clubs and the overwhelming presence of the Mighty Mississippi River, the Crescent City has always an enchanting mystique that draws visitors from all over the globe.  Throughout his musical career, Dr. John consolidated many of the many musical styles found throughout the region and helped define what it meant to be a New Orleans musician.

The Turning Point

At an early age, while attending Jesuit school, Mac Rebennack reached a turning point in his life, when he was told by his teachers to either give up music or give up school. Rebennack promptly dropped out of school and went down the long road of hard knocks of being a blues-funk musician from the Big Easy. Finally, after prison, drug addiction and being shot in the hand, Dr. John released his first alum in 1968 at aged 27. The album was called Gris-Gris ( a New Orleans voodoo term) and it introduced Dr. John and the Night Trippers to the world.

Dr. John’s musical career peaked in 1973 with the release of In the Right Place, a breakthrough musical release that featured the Meters as his back-up band. This album also introduced two of his biggest hits, Such a Night and Right Place, Wrong Time. Luckily, Dr. John’s career did not end after 1973, for the Louisiana Native continued to prosper with live concerts, studio sessions, more albums and even some music, film credits. However, most music critics seem to concur that this year and this album marked the high point of the doctor’s long-lived musical career.

Time Warp

Mac Rebennack procured his legendary stage name from a rear-life Jean Montanee, a root doctor, who lived in New Orleans during the early part of the nineteenth century. Montanee was born in Senegal, but lived most of his life in New Orleans, where he reached a grand old age of 100. For Jean Montanee, Doctor was an honorary title that he acquired from his knowledge of roots and other medicinal plants that he expended to anyone, who was interested.


For many years, Dr. John, had a heroin addiction problem, which he finally kicked in 1989. In 1976, Dr. John joined forces with The Band for this remarkable rendering of one of his biggest hits.




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