DR JOHN: The album he always wanted to make

When Dr John first emerged in the late Sixties, it was as if a voodoo priest had risen up from the Louisiana swamps and immediately landed a record deal. It was an image the New Orleans-born singer-songwriter played up to, dressing like a medicine man in an elaborate feather headdress and performing with skulls and candles strewn around his piano. His real name was Mac Rebennack, and he was a 26-year-old session pianist for Sonny and Cher when he recorded his mind-bending 1968 debut album Gris-Gris, a bubbling gumbo of lysergic grooves, ritualistic percussion and growled incantations.

Rebennack embraced his shamanic character over the course of his half-century solo career, which took him to a host of unexpected places. He appeared alongside The Band during their farewell concert film The Last Waltz in 1976 and crooned the theme to Disney’s bayou-set The Princess and the Frog in 2009. Rich and intoxicating, his music was .....

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