Dr John, the wild, wayout and hugely talented New Orleans musician, singer and songwriter has died. Though given his forty year heroin habit it’s a miracle he survived as long as he did. The Guardian obituary describes his ‘innovative, brilliant and at times unsettling synthesis of New Orleans musical traditions – jazz, funk, rhythm and blues – made by a man steeped in both the city’s culture and the darker side of life.’ ‘Singing songs about Louisiana voodoo thick with New Orleans slang and Creole patois, clad in a flamboyant Mardi Gras headdress and facepaint.’
Born 20 November 1941, his maternal grandfather sang and danced in minstrel shows and his father repaired sound equipment in the clubs around the city’s French Quarter. His son accompanied him, learned guitar and piano, and by the age of 14 was playing with local bands in bars and juke joints, sharing the stage with strippers and magicians. He lost a finger from a gunshot wound, intervening in a fight which meant he couldn’t play guitar and focussed on piano as his principal instrument. In his teens he picked up a heroin habit which at one point ended him up in the Fort Worth penitentiary in Texas. To support his habit he dabbled in pimping and petty crime and worked briefly as the assistant to a backstreet abortionist.
A life and a half.
He was a Sun Scorpio opposition Uranus Saturn in Taurus, so immensely stubborn with stamina, and with clearly all of Scorpio’s tendency to the dark side. His Uranus was in a creative trine to Neptune; and his Mars in impulsive Aries was in a bull-headed trine to Pluto attracting him to risk as well.
His creative 5th harmonic was exceptionally strong; as was his breakthrough/genius/exploring the unorthodox 13H. They don’t make em like they used to.