Dr. John
  Malcolm 'Mac' Rebennack was born in New Orleans on November 21st 1940.  His mother was a model and young Malcolm's first taste of show business came with an appearance on Ivory Soap advertisements.  His father owned a record store where the child heard all kinds of music from the folk blues of Big Bill Broonzy to hillbilly.  At High School he played piano and guitar in a number of adolescent bands and from his early teens he hung around some of New Orleans' small recording studios where he became acquainted with such luminary figures as Huey 'Piano' Smith, Professor Longhair, Roy Montrell and Lee Allen.  By his late teens he had played sessions for such labels as Ace, Ebb and Rex, appearing on record with Longhair, Huey Smith, Frankie Ford, Joe Tex, Jimmy Clanton and Charles Brown.  During this period he also came to prominence as a composer.  He wrote "What's Going On" for Art Neville, "Losing Battle"for Johnny Adams, the classic "Lights Out" for Jerry Byrne, "Something Special", a million seller for Roland Stone and part of "Ship On a Stormy Sea" which sold a million for Jimmy Clanton.

     Rebennack's own recording debut came in 1959 on Rex, with "Storm Warning", a powerful, self-penned instrumental which was covered by Johnny and The Hurricanes.  He worked as a session man and a producer for ABC in Baton Rouge, Minit in New Orleans and Harold Batistte's A.F.O. (All For One) co-operative.  In about 1961 he was shot in the hand in a bar-room brawl and thereafter concentrated on playing bass and organ.

     In the early Sixties he moved to Los Angeles where he worked with Battiste and such producers as Rene Hall, H.B. Barnum, Gene Page and Phil Spector.  It is hard to verify but the list of artists he played sessions for includes Sonny and Cher, Sam Cooke and many of Spector's artists.  He produced recordings for Shirley Goodman and Jessie Hill before forming a number of unsuccessful bands - The Zu Zu Band (with Jessie Hill), Drits and Dravy (with Ronnie Barron) and Morgus and the Three Ghouls.  The latter betrayed an interest he had been developing in voodoo, a cult which he had encountered in his New Orleans days.

     In 1968 he emerged as a voodoo performer under the name of Dr. John (Creaux) The Night Tripper and began performing in flamboyant costumes in front of backing singers and dancers in a revue that sought to captivate the carnival flavour of the Mardi Gras.  He secured a deal with Atlantic and released the album Gris Gris (1968) .  It was an incredible collection of metaphysical voodoo symbolism conveyed through creole chants and elements of psychedelia..  It was produced and arranged by Harold Battiste and John's sleeve note included: --

"I will mash my special fais deaux-deaux on all of you who buy my charts.  The rites of Coco Robicheaux who, invisible to all but me, will act as a second guardian angel until you over-work him."

     He credited such musicians as Dr Poo Pah Dooh of Destine Tambourine and Dr. Ditmus of Conga and a host of other strange figures.  In similar style were his next three offerings, Babylon (1969), Remedies (1970) and Sun, Moon and Herbs (1971).  The extent to which the Dr. John phenomenon was now acquiring cult status was indicated by the last album which featured such figures as Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton.

     For his next album Dr. John's Gumbo (1972), Rebennack moved his attentions away from voodoo to the music of the giants of New Orleans rhythm 'n' blues.  The album was produced by Jerry Wexler and Harold Battiste and featured such Crescent City musicians as Lee Allen, Alvin Robinson, Harold Battiste and Ronnie Barron.  The selections included a Huey 'Piano' Smith medley, Longhair's "Tipitina", the traditional"Stack-a-Lee" and Sugarboy Crawford's "Ilo Iko" which gave Dr. John a U.S. Billboard Hot Hundred hit in 1972.  Although the album only reached the low register on the charts (peaking at No. 112 where it spent eleven weeks) it is, quite rightly, a highly respected release.  His next album in The Right Place (1973) was produced by Allen Toussaint and featured a rhythm section provided by The Meters.  As a live act and in the studio Rebennack, Toussaint and The Meters worked very well together, a fact evidenced by a successsful European tour, "Right Place Wrong Time", from the album, gave Dr. John a U. S. Top Ten hit. Another cut," Such A Night", followed it into the charts and reached the Top Fifty.  Dr. John's good relationship with Toussaint was confirmed with Desitively Bonnaroo (1974) which turned out to be his last album for Atlantic.

     Since leaving Atlantic Mac Rebennack has recorded infrequently although he has maintained his standards on such offerings as Hollywood By Thy Name (1975 United Artist).  City Lights (Horizon 1978) and Tango Palace (Horizon 1978).  In 1988 he was seen by millions of viewers when the BBC tried to capture some of the atmosphere of New Orleans' world famous Mardi Gras in live broadcast.
Under a Hoodoo Moon -
is one of rock's most original and infectious autobographies. In its pages, Dr. John, the alchemist of New Orleans psychedelic funk, tells his story, and what a story it is: of four decades on the road, on the charts, in and out of trouble, but always steeped in the piano-based soulful grind of New Orleans rhythm and blues of which he is the acknowledged high guru. From childhood as a prodigal prodigy among 1950s legends from Little Richard and Fats Domino to sessions with the Rolling Stones and the Band; from recording studio to juke joint to penitentiary to world tours; from Mac Rebennack to Dr. John the Night Tripper, this is the testament of our funkiest rock storyteller. Full of wit and wordplay, tales of hoodoo saints and high-living sinners, Under a Hoodoo Moon casts a spell as hard to resist as Mardi Gras itself.
Under a Hoodoo Moon
The life of Dr. John the Night Tripper
by Jack Rummell 1995
Dr. John...pg 2
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