Announced Wednesday morning, the class of 2011 delivers unique crop of artists to the Rock Hall in Cleveland.
At 10:30 this morning, Dec. 15, Malcolm John "Mac" Rebennack Jr. was still in bed.
Little did the 70-year-old musician — known throughout the world by his stage name Dr. John — know that he had been officially named as a member of the 2011 class of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees.
It took a call from a dear friend from Atlantic City, author Sandy Warren, to be the first to let him know about the good news, which was just announced this morning.
"He was still sleeping," says Warren, who interviewed Dr. John for Atlantic City Weekly back in February 2009.
"He wasn't really up yet. He coughed a lot. He's got a bad cold, so it wasn't too dramatic."
Dr. John, whose music has provided a soundtrack for New Orleans for more than five decades, joins Alice Cooper, Neil Diamond, Jac Holzman, Darlene Love, Art Rupe, Leon Russell and Tom Waits in the class of 2011.
(Imagine what that jam session is going to sound like at the induction ceremony in March with Dr. John, Leon Russell and Tom Waits all on stage at once!)
For more details on the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame and the 2011 induction ceremony, which will take place on Monday, March 14, 2011, at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City and be broadcast on the Fuse network, visit rockhall.com.
“We are pleased to welcome these artists and executives into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame,” said Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation president and CEO Joel Peresman on the Hall's Web site.
“They truly represent the variety of people that have defined and continue to influence music and the business of Rock and Roll.”
Along with his time known as the "Night Tripper," his work with the Band, the late Art Blakey (the doctor wrote the forward in Warren's new book on her life with Blakey), and countless other musicians, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame's Web site features the following wrap-up of the Doc's musical history:
"New Orleans’ own Dr. John has been recording for more than 50 years. He is steeped in the rhythms and traditions of the city, and has spent his career championing its music. As he told New Orleans rhythm & blues historian Jeff Hannusch, “[New Orleans music] is part of whatever I’m about. The importance of it is beyond anything I do.” Born Malcolm John “Mac” Rebennack, he learned piano and guitar as a child. Schooled by Crescent City legends like Walter “Papoose” Nelson, James Booker and Cosimo Matassa, Rebennack began recording in 1957; between 1956-1963, more than 50 of his songs were recorded in New Orleans. In 1965, Rebennack moved to Los Angeles and worked as a session player. Working with Harold Battiste, he created the Dr. John the Night Tripper character, a tribute to New Orleans’ musical and spiritual traditions that meshed perfectly with psychedelia. His first album, Gris-Gris, was a masterpiece, evoking voodoo legends over a funky mix. In the first half of the 1970s, he released a series of albums that mixed New Orleans classics with his own original material, all driven by his remarkable piano playing and great bands, most notably his collaboration with Allen Toussaint and the Meters on “Right Place, Wrong Time,” a smash funk hit. He has produced albums for Professor Longhair and Van Morrison, collaborated with Doc Pomus on a group of songs recorded by B.B. King on There Must Be a Better World Somewhere (1981), and released several acclaimed solo piano records. In recent years he has become a spokesman for New Orleans and its musical history, all the while continuing to record creative, challenging music."
Dr. John could not be reached for a comment by phone this morning.
" There wasn’t a lot of temptation on the Rush tour bus for us. Fortunately our audience is 99 percent male, which made things a lot easier than it could have been if we were another band. "
The Pleasantville relief concert will run from 5:30-10:30pm at Wash's on Main Street, and will include live music by the Eddie Morgan Trio and other guests, as well door prizes, a raffle and food.
You can bet on it. Dr. John will transform the House of Blues at Showboat into St. James Infirmary Saturday night, Feb. 21. He'll heal what ails you and have you begging for more even when you're fee...