Dr. John passed away today. The family announced it in a tweet that he died of a heart attack.
I don't recall when I became a fan - & I was a fan - but I imagine when I saw him do "Such A Night" on The Last Waltz. Between my brother & myself, we got into his Atlantic era hits, his latter-day role as an ambassador for New Orleans to NPR listeners, then back to his beginning as the hippest hougan, the Night Tripper. Through him, I found Professor Longhair, The Meters & Earl King, the whole host of New Orleans rhythm-&-blues-&-rock-&-roll.
I saw him live a couple times, both solo & with a full band, & it was always good. Not long before I moved to New Orleans, I read his autobiography Under A Hoodoo Moon, & for the longest time, was my entire conception of what New Orleans was, the town & her people, along with Confederacy Of Dunces and some more scholarly readings on New Orleans voodoo, hoodoo, root doctor past & present. To be honest, part of the reason I moved there was because of those two books, the town's root doctor strain, & Dr. John. Even after living there for nine years, his music still, for me, encapsulates what all of New Orleans - her people, her music, her history, her eccentricities, her charms - means when I try to think of why I want to move back there.
I met him once. He was my co-worker's friend & AA sponsor. New Orleans is like that. Nothing special, we interacted for all of 10 minutes, chatted about New Orleans & music, & this was long, long after I'd quit even caring about writing about music again. He was a real sweet cat & I dug his songs. Saltue