Speed Reads


Legendary New Orleans musician Dr. John dies at 77

Dr. John, the Grammy winner whose eclectic music was inspired by everything from his hometown of New Orleans to voodoo to his grandfather's vaudeville past, died Thursday from a heart attack. He was 77.

"Dr. John was a true Louisiana legend," Gov. John Bel Edwards (D) said in a statement. "He showed the world Louisiana's rich musical heritage, and his passion for music has left a mark on the industry unlike any other." Born Malcolm John Rebennack Jr., he grew up playing the piano, before switching to the guitar; in 1960, he was shot in the finger and went back to the piano.

After a stint in federal prison on drug charges, he moved to Los Angeles and became a studio musician, recording with Sonny and Cher, Canned Heat, and Frank Zappa. He took on the Dr. John persona in the late 1960s, when he began releasing his solo work. His albums Gris-Gris and Dr. John's Gumbo both appear on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 best albums, and he also sang the theme song for Blossom and the jingle for Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen. Dr. John was inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.