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Dr. John biography

Born: November 21, 1940, New Orleans

Also known as: Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr.

Dr. John combines the roots of New Orleans blues with jazz, funk, rhythm and blues, pop and rock, infused with his sense of humor and particularly original and inventive artistic sensibility. He grew up in New Orleans and was exposed to the city’s music early on — his father owned a record store and repaired equipment in local nightclubs. Dr. John became a session musician, where he worked with such local legends as Allen Toussaint and Professor Longhair. He eventually moved to Los Angeles and continued doing session work. Legend has it he recorded his first album with excess studio time donated by Sonny & Cher. That first release, Gris Gris, along with a later release, Gumbo, are two examples of his finest work, although an even later album contained his 1973 chart hit “Right Place, Wrong Time.” Dr. John is a charismatic performer who in his heyday outfitted himself in Mardi Gras regalia as a witch doctor of sorts to perform a show that was part theatric ritual. He has collaborated with many notable artists and is an accomplished producer and arranger. He continues to record, perform and work as a highly respected producer.

Essential listening: “Such A Night,” “Right Place, Wrong Time,” “Makin’ Whoopee”