Dr. John & His Magical Mojo – November 21, 1941 – June 6, 2019

Malcolm John Rebennack (November 20, 1941 – June 6, 2019)

My personal connection to Dr. John came by way of the Carousel Ballroom – the venue the Grateful Dead owned and ran back in 1968. There he was in all his finery. Feathers, beads, headdresses, charms and a cane for good measure. For 3 months we were very busy playing hosts of this musical cathedral and inviting our favorite artists to play with us. I had listened to his recordings when we lived in the Haight, but nothing could prepare me for the real thing. He was dripping in New Orleans funk history. He was a walking musical encyclopedia of the time delivering a powerful dose of fillet gumbo to our musical soundscape.

The good Dr. was more than a replica of a time well past, he was an embodiment of a whole culture that spawned the music in and of New Orleans, the birthplace of rock n' roll. To know and understand who Dr. John was is a lesson in the powerful trade winds of the musical journey that brought him to us. To know Dr. John is to know the history that spawned his cool, royal persona.

His music was filled with echoes of Voodoo priestesses, charms, spells, feathers galore, ritual magic and music that represented an entire culture born in the various wards of New Orleans. 

Some Voodoo cultures believe that everyone lives 16 times — eight times we live as men, and eight times as women. The purpose of each of these lives being to gather all kinds of experiences. During these 16 lives, a person moves from body to body, country to country, attaining wisdom until he or she merges with God.

I'm in awe of thinking about what his next life has in store for him, while reflecting on his fantastic journey through this one. 

Travel well old friend.


Further Reading

Dr. John, a true New Orleans music legend, dies at age 77

In Memoriam: Mac "Dr. John" Rebennack
– https://www.wwoz.org/blog/534516

– Dr. John RIP: Two Hands And A Hundred Years of History

– Dr. John – 12 Essential Songs

– The Weird and Wonderful Dr. John Embodied New Orleans Music

The World Reacts to Dr. John’s Death