5 Songs by Famous Artists That Feature the Late Dr. John

Mac Rebennack, the legendary New Orleans singer and piano player better known by his stage name, Dr. John, passed away on this day (June 6) in 2019 at age 77.

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Dr. John began his musical career as a teenager, and he soaked up the many influences that make up the gumbo that is the New Orleans sound, including blues, funk, jazz, soul, R&B, and rock ‘n’ roll. During the late 1960s, Dr. John also added psychedelic and swamp rock influences that helped make his music uniquely his own.

[RELATED: Review: Take This Prescription of Dr. John’s Finest Montreux Performances to Cure Your Ills]

Dr. John released many albums as a lead artist, but he also was a sought-after session player who collaborated with a wide variety of famous musicians during his long career.

In commemoration of the fifth anniversary of his death, here are five songs by various music stars that feature the talents of Dr. John:

“Let It Loose” – The Rolling Stones (1972)

“Let It Loose” was a gospel-soul gem featured on The Rolling Stones’ chart-topping 1972 double album Exile on Main St. Dr. John sang backing vocals on the track, alongside several respected session singers—Tami Lynn, Clydie King, Venetta Fields, Shirley Goodman, and Joe Greene.

Acclaimed session keyboardist Nicky Hopkins also contributed to the track.

“Joyous Sound” – Van Morrison (1977)

Dr. John played piano on all of the tracks on Van Morrison’s 1977 studio album, A Period of Transition. He also co-produced the record with Morrison.

Among the album’s standout tunes is “Joyous Sound,” an upbeat R&B song driven by Dr. John’s lively, swinging piano lines. The song was one of two tunes released as singles from A Period of Transition, although it failed to chart.

“The Horizontal Bop” – Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band (1980)

“The Horizontal Bop” is a rollicking, old-time rock ‘n’ roll song from Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band’s chart-topping 1980 album, Against the Wind. In case you didn’t guess, the song’s title is a euphemism for having sex.

Dr. John plays boogie-woogie piano on the track, which the fourth single released from the album. “The Horizontal Bop” just missed reaching the Top 40 on the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 42.

“Is You Is, or Is You Ain’t (My Baby)” – Duet with B.B. King (1999)

In 1999, blues legend B.B. King released Let the Good Times Roll, a tribute to famed jazz singer and saxophonist Louis Jordan. Dr. John was among a number of noteworthy blues and jazz musicians who played on the record.

The album includes a rendition of “Is You Is, or Is You Ain’t (My Baby),” a hit for Jordan that he recorded in 1943.

Dr. John plays cool jazz piano throughout the track. He also sings a good part of the second half of the song, with King and him engaging in a conversational interlude at one point.

“Merry Christmas, Baby” – Duet with Christina Aguilera (2000)

Christina Aguilera’s third studio album was a holiday collection title My Kind of Christmas that was released in 2000. Dr. John is featured on a cover of “Merry Christmas, Baby,” an R&B-flavored yuletide standard first recorded in 1947.

Aguilera’s version features a big-band arrangement that showcases her powerfully throaty voice. Dr. John plays tasteful piano, and also contributes some soul-drenched vocals to the tune.

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