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DR. JOHN stands alongside Louis Armstrong and Fats Domino as one of New Orleans' all-time distinctive voices. Not only is the Good Doctor's dry, gravelly cackle one of the most infectious sounds in both jazz and popular music, but he is universally celebrated as the living embodiment of the rich musical heritage exclusive to the Crescent City.
After spending his teen-age years piano punching and guitar crunching for just about anyone around the New Orleans area who would hire him, Dr. John - then still known by his given name, Mac Rebennack - joined Sonny and Cher's backup band. He moved to Los Angeles, where he became a first-call session player for the likes of legendary record maker Phil Spector.
Rebennack's inspiration for Dr. John was a 19th-century Bambarra prince who lived in New Orleans called Dr. John Montaine. Apart from claiming to be a genuine African king, Montaine was known for his knowledge of occult and voodoo practices. This dark side of Dr. John Montaine appealed to Mac, who once admitted that he "felt a spiritual kinship." What emerged, in 1968, festooned in Mardi-Gras Indian feathered head-dress and long colorful robes was Dr. John Creaux - The Night Tripper, a swampy cure-all psychedelic medicine man uttering "Gris-Gris" incantations, the most famous of which was "Walk on Gilded Splinters."
In 1972, Dr. John saluted his roots and crashed the charts with Gumbo, which was followed by In The Right Place. Over the next 25 years, Dr. John explored his musical past and became a worldwide crowd-pulling headliner on the club and jazz festival circuits. He further broadened his appeal when, in 1989, he grabbed a Grammy for a moody duet with Rickie Lee Jones of "Makin' Whoopee."
In 1997, Dr. John signed with Parlophone to record the well-received Anutha Zone, which included contributions from Paul Weller, and Jools Holland, as well as members of Primal Scream, Supergrass, Spiritualized, Portishead, Ocean Colour Scene, and The Beta Band. This was followed by Duke Elegant, Dr. John's tribute to Duke Ellington. His newest album for Parlophone, Creole Moon, comprises 15 songs, of which five Dr. John co-wrote with the recently deceased Doc Pomus - one-half of the legendary songwriting team Pomus & Shuman.