Dr John – The NIght Tripper

Dr. John, The Night Tripper - Gris Gris (VPRO Piknik - 1970)

Storm Warning  (As Mac Rebenack /USA REX)
If I don’t Do It Somebody Else Will
Right Place, Wrong Time
Walk On Gilded Splinters

Dr John ‘The Night Tripper’ came from New Orleans – real name Mac Rebennack.  At one time he became the king of music influenced by Gris Gris, Creole voodoo, Santaria, Mardi Gras craziness and all that black magic stuff. The weird sounding Dr John could be heard – strange voodoo at early sessions at the Blue Note Club Manchester – just as the crowd was let in. These were tracks off the Gris Gris LP just to set off the magical mood before the soul fire began. He had two great soul blues numbers in the early 1970s.

Dr John The NIght Tripper
Dr John The NIght Tripper

According to the legend, this Gris Gris was recorded in some spare studio time in 1968. I’m quite certain of the year but I’m not so sure about the rest of the myth. But who could be when the subject matter is voodoo, New Orleans style.

Mac Rebennack caught the second line fever at birth. On his first solo album (after lots of session work with among others Phil Spector)  the emphasis was firmly on the stories and the mood. Psychedelic voodoo walking on burning coals. An all-in-all a hypnotizing blend if you ask me. But you have to be in the mood…

For a long time Dr John was a functioning heroin addict and managed to get clean in 1989. He toured the U.K. frequently and appeared at The Band On The Wall in Manchester in the eighties.

Moxley Road Crumpsall. Not my flat but close.
Moxley Road Crumpsall. Not my flat but close.

I remember having a flat in Crumpsall, Manchester (Moxley Road if you are interested) where one of the top storey flat was rented by a couple of hippie guys. I was working nights on The Daily Express at the time and would arrive back around 2.00 am usually. On hot summer nights (circa 1971), I would park the car outside and hear through the open window the unmistakeable weird horn intro of They Call Me Doctor John, I’m Known As The Night Tripper. I would go upstairs have a drink, unwind and listen to one of the best albums of all time. If you’re still alive Eric the welder and Ken Greenhalgh the artist, how are you doing man?

His autobiography, Under a Hoodoo Moon, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 1994

Born: 21st November 1940 – New Orleans, Louisiana

Died: 6th June 2109 aged 77 – heart attack

Dr John – Wikipedia