The legendary Dr. John the Night Tripper, the Grammy-winning New Orleans hoodoo rock-and-roll musician, presents his life story, in an infectious and spicy journey through the musical back alleys of New Orleans and of America. 25,000 first printing.
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This unflinching autobiography by Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John, with Rummel (Malcolm X, 1989) gives a firsthand account of New Orleans street life and musical history in the last few decades. Rebennack began frequenting New Orleans music clubs at an early age. In the '50s he dropped out of high school and devoted himself to playing the piano and guitar. While developing his music he also developed a taste for heroin and other drugs. Musicians in the New Orleans scene provided entertainment for ``turistas'' and, in the early morning hours, for pimps, prostitutes and thieves. To supplement their income, musicians also engaged in some of these vocations. Rebennack admits to participating in many shady dealings: He disposed of fetuses for an abortionist, held stick- ups, and conspired to, but evidently did not, murder. After a stint in prison on narcotics charges, he cast himself as Dr. John, based on the 19th-century conjurer by that name, and played distinctly New Orleans music in a wild stage show that featured snake handling and black magic. Dr. John's music became popular with the '60s counterculture. Rebennack also played as a sideman throughout his career with a catalog of music greats--some obscure and some well- known, such as Little Richard and Professor Longhair; considering the ``narcotic haze'' in which he often found himself, he remembers many details from sessions. Rebennack, however, has no respect for fame without musical skill--he refers to the group Iron Butterfly as ``Iron Butterfingers.'' Taken advantage of by unscrupulous music business executives and strung out on heroin for 34 years, he tells a tough tale. A life this varied and chaotic is hard to translate into a linear story. Though Rebennack's prose sometimes rambles, he gives the reader a perspective that most tourists to Bourbon street never see. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
As much a tribute to Rebennack's native New Orleans and its vibrant music scene as it is an autobiography, this candid book provides an inside look at the drug-using, hell-raising lifestyle adopted by many rock musicians. Writing in a loose, slangy style with freelancer Rummel, Rebennack, whose albums as Dr. John ( Gris Gris ; Gumbo ) helped popularize the distinctively Cajun-influenced music that is now a hallmark of the New Orleans sound, presents a compelling picture of his hometown as a place of enormous musical energy and excitement. We read of all-night jam sessions, quirky local characters and Voodoo rituals (the sobriquet Dr. John is borrowed from an early Voodoo master). Influenced by such New Orleans greats as James Booker and Professor Longhair, Rebennack hit the road with his first band when he was 16 and, because of narcotics, soon found himself in trouble with the law. He is oddly blase about drugs and tries so hard to maintain his cool-cat rock 'n' roll persona that he comes across more as a caricature than as a real person. The portrait of Crescent City's music scene, by contrast, has depth. Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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