In this April 26, 2008 file photo, Dr. John performs during the 2008 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in New Orleans. The jazz musician who delighted New Orleans festival-goers for decades with his legendary piano riffs and unmistakable hoarse voice, died on Thursday. — Photo suntimes.com
WASHINGTON — Dr. John, an American jazz musician who delighted New Orleans festival-goers for decades with his legendary piano riffs and unmistakable hoarse voice, died on Thursday, his family said.
The legendary blues pianist, whose real name was Malcolm John McRebennack, suffered a heart attack and died early in the morning, according to a statement on his official Twitter account. He was 77.
Dr. John's musical talents defied genre, as he played everything from blues and pop to jazz, boogie woogie and rock-and-roll.
A specific character who was known for his trademark gravelly voice, Dr. John brought psychedelic rock to Louisiana's Big Easy in the 1960s and then introduced the city to funk in the 1970s.
"His funky approach to blending musical styles and imaginative persona helped diversify the New Orleans Sound," said Neil Portnow, president of the Recording Academy, which awarded Dr. John with six Grammy Awards from 15 nominations.
"Malcolm John Rebennack Jr. – known to most as Dr. John-was a radiant singer, songwriter, and pianist whose career in music made him a New Orleans icon and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer," he said.
With his funk-rock hoodoo style, he established himself as one of New Orlean's most important musicians, in the footsteps of other keyboard masters like Fats Domino.
Dr. John was a major feature at international jazz festivals and was known for mingling English with French Creole and African patois in a cultural mix specific to New Orleans and its multicultural history.
He wrote about his heroin addiction and in the 1960s spent two years in prison for drug possession. — AFP