Dr John, an American jazz musician who delighted New Orleans festival-goers for decades with his legendary piano riffs and unmistakable hoarse voice, died 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.
With his fuck-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, who won several Grammy awards and was a major feature at international jazz festivals, was also 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.