New Orleans Icon Dr. John Dies at 77

Dr. John at Live on the Green in Nashville in 2012
Photo by Kate Cauthen. Taken at Nashville’s Live on the Green in 2012.

Dr. John, New Orleans’ patron saint of funk, has died at the age of 77. His team confirmed his passing in a post on Facebook, which reads in part, “Towards the break of day on June 6, 2019, iconic music legend Malcolm John Rebennack, Jr., professionally known as Dr. John, passed away of a heart attack.”

Dr. John was a beloved singer, songwriter, producer and instrumentalist whose music blended funk, soul, boogie, blues, jazz and rock. He began his music career in his teens as a session musician, eventually releasing his debut album, Gris-Gris, in 1968. That album would later rank at #143 on Rolling Stone‘s 500 greatest albums of all time list in 2003. His most recent solo album is 2014’s Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit Of Satch.

Over the course of his storied, prolific career, Dr. John released dozens of albums and won six Grammy awards, received an honorary doctorate of fine arts from Tulane and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (2011). His many collaborations include projects with Allen Toussaint, Doc Pomus, the Band and the Rolling Stones.

Dr. John was known as much for his connection to the city of New Orleans as he was for his beloved music. The aforementioned Facebook post paid homage to Dr. John’s deep love for his city, saying, “He created a unique blend of music which carried his home town, New Orleans, at its heart, as it was always in his heart.”

Memorial arrangements have not been announced yet.