Dr. John Dead at 77


New Orleans funk legend Mac Rebennack died early Thursday of a heart attack


Dr. John, the New Orleans funk icon, died of a heart attack today. His family announced the news in a statement. He was 77.

Mac Rebennack began playing music in New Orleans clubs at a young age. He eventually became a session musician who recorded with artists like the Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, Sonny & Cher, Frank Zappa, Harry Nilsson, and others. The name Dr. John was inspired by a 19th century voodoo practitioner. His debut album as lead artist was 1968’s Gris-Gris, which he recorded under the name “Dr. John, the Night Tripper.” As a performer, he covered himself in feathers and beads.

He released over 30 albums throughout his career, and in 1973, he landed a hit song with “Right Place Wrong Time.” His 1974 album Desitively Bonnaroo is the namesake for the massively popular Tennessee festival. His cultural impact reached beyond the world of music. Jim Henson was inspired by Dr. John when he created the Muppet bandleader Dr. Teeth. Dr. John also wrote a number of jingles and provided theme songs for TV shows like “Blossom” and “Curious George.”

He famously appeared in the Band’s iconic final concert film The Last Waltz where he performed “Such a Night.” One of his final albums was the Dan Auerbach-produced 2012 album Locked Down. He followed that in 2014 with the Louis Armstrong tribute Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch.

Dr. John won six Grammys between 1989 and 2018. He was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

This article was originally published on June 6 at 6:29 p.m. Eastern. It was last updated on June 6 at 7:32 p.m. Eastern.