A legend of American music has departed.
His name was Malcolm John Rebennack, or Mac Rebennack, but we knew him as Dr. John.
He was 77 years old, and is said to have succumbed to a heart attack.
On Thursday afternoon, Dr. John's publicist released a statement from the musician's family late on Thursday, saying the cause of his death was a heart attack.
The statement did not say where he died, but the Lake Pontchartrain area had been his home of late.
“Mr. Rebennack belonged to the pantheon of New Orleans keyboard wizards that includes Professor Longhair, James Booker, Huey (Piano) Smith and Fats Domino,” writes the New York Times' Gavin Edwards.
“What distinguished him from his peers was the showmanship of his public persona.”
Excerpt from the New York Times obituary:
Onstage as Dr. John, he adorned himself with snakeskin, beads and brightly colored feathers, and his shows blended Mardi Gras bonhomie with voodoo mystery.
He recorded more than 30 albums, including jazz projects (“Bluesiana Triangle,” 1990, with the drummer Art Blakey and the saxophonist David Newman), solo piano records (“Dr. John Plays Mac Rebennack,” 1981) and his version of Afropop (“Locked Down,” 2012). His 1989 album of standards, “In a Sentimental Mood,” earned him the first of six Grammy Awards, for his duet with Rickie Lee Jones on “Makin’ Whoopee!”
His only Top 40 single, “Right Place Wrong Time,” reached No. 9 on the Billboard chart in 1973. In 2011, he was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Read the full NYT obituary: Dr. John, Who Embodied the Music of New Orleans, Dies at 77 [nytimes.com]
Towards the break of day June 6, iconic music legend Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr., known as Dr. John, passed away of a heart attack. The family thanks all whom shared his unique musical journey & requests privacy at this time. Memorial arrangements will be announced in due course.
— Dr. John (@akadrjohn) June 6, 2019
Absolutely gutted at the loss of my friend and boss. There will never be another like him. Amazed there was even one.
Rest in Power, Dr. John. pic.twitter.com/WPb8DRXZU2
— Karen DaltonBeninato (@kbeninato) June 6, 2019
Dr. John, a true New Orleans music legend, dies at age 77. https://t.co/uHEAKI5dEP
— NOLA.com (@NOLAnews) June 6, 2019
Didn’t he ramble. One of the greatest American originals has passed. Good night, Mac. And know that the legacy of Dr. John will live forever in the streets and music halls of New Orleans and everywhere else in this world that holds music precious.
— David Simon (@AoDespair) June 6, 2019
— Rolling Stone (@RollingStone) June 6, 2019
Oh, sad: Mac Rebbenack, aka Dr. John the Night Tripper, has died. I saw him open for the Grateful Dead once; his "Walk on Gilded Splinters" was one of the most darkly luminous, mojo-haunted performances I've ever seen. https://t.co/35r6GnNG6r
— Steve Silberman (@stevesilberman) June 6, 2019
In New Orleans, in religion, as in food or race or music, you can’t separate nothing from nothing. Everything mingles each into the other ... until nothing is purely itself but becomes part of one fonky gumbo.” https://t.co/maG2ZVkgtK
— John Schwartz (@jswatz) June 7, 2019
I loved Dr John. My first real rock show was him opening for Procol Harum and King Crimson in San Antonio in 1973. I still remember him walking onstage and singing “Right Place”- I don’t remember a thing about the crumpet dunkers.
— Michael Hall (@mikehalltexas) June 6, 2019