New Orleans rocker, Grammy winner Dr. John set to take the Double Decker stage Saturday night

Published 2:18 pm Wednesday, April 26, 2017

He is a six-time Grammy winner and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, but Dr. John is about as New Orleans as crawfish and beignets with a musical sound that is distinctly his own.

There have been Big Easy musical legends like Fats Domino, Pete Fountain and Louis Armstrong, but none of them compare to the rich musical heritage that Dr. John has laid in New Orleans. He is a musical icon who will be bringing that New Orleans flavor to the Double Decker Festival this year as he tours with the Nite Trippers. He’ll play Double Decker Saturday at 7 p.m. and then head back to the Crescent City to perform Sunday during the legendary New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.

The pianist has combined blues, rock, jazz, zydeco, pop and boogie-woogie into his own musical gumbo that has influenced countless musicians.

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Born and raised in New Orleans, Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack began his career under the watchful eye of New Orleans music icon Professor Longhair, and eventually became a music producer and highly-sought-after session musician in California.

In the 1960s, he developed the persona of Dr. John while in California, combining voodoo chants with traditional New Orleans music, soon developing a cult following that included other musical artists such as Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton. His stage shows were elaborate displays.

He has recorded more than 20 albums and scored a top-20 hit with the release of “Right Place Wrong Time” in 1973.

In the years since, he has remained a distinctly prolific and powerful force, releasing more than 30 albums of his own while collaborating with a broad array of acts including the Rolling Stones, Sonny & Cher, Van Morrison, Aretha Franklin, Gregg Allman, Mike Bloomfield, Levon Helm, Ringo Starr, Rickie Lee Jones, B.B. King and Christina Aguilera. He’s also performed in such films as The Last Waltz and Blues Brothers 2000, and pursued a successful two-decade songwriting partnership with legendary tunesmith Doc Pomus.

He just recently was a headliner on The Last Waltz 40th Anniversary Tour as he reprised his “Such A Night” performance from the original 1978 concert and film with The Band.

Some of the biggest names in New Orleans music and those influenced by Dr. John paid tribute to him with “The Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac & His Music,” a special concert event taped in 2014 at New Orleans Saenger Theatre, that honored the musical icon. The album features several renowned artists, including Bruce Springsteen, Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas and John Fogerty.

“It was very moving to have all these people paying tribute to me, but I just treated it like it was another show,” Dr. John said.

At 76, he’s been in the musical game for 60 years and doesn’t show signs of slowing down anytime soon.

“I try not to look back too much, but it really moved me to have all of these people paying tribute,” Dr. John said. “But I want people to know that I’m still in the game and still have a lot more music in me.”