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Dublin: 5 °C Thursday 12 December, 2019

Legendary New Orleans blues pianist Dr John dies at 77

The Grammy award winning musician has been described today as a “radiant singer, songwriter, and pianist”.

Image: John Gastaldo/PA

AMERICAN JAZZ MUSICIAN DR John has died after suffering a heart attack, aged 77. 

The legendary blues pianist, whose real name was Malcolm John McRebennack, died early yesterday morning. 

Dr John played everything from blues and pop to jazz, boogie woogie and rock-and-roll.

Known for his trademark gravelly voice, he 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.

Source: Dave Martin/PA

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 had written about his heroin addiction and in the 1960s spent two years in prison for drug possession.

- © AFP 2019.

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