Malcolm John Rebennack Jr.

Bath Festival 1970

Or Doctor John to most of us!  His recent death at the age of 78 has been widely reported but it is perhaps worth noting amongst his more illustrious career highlights (he made his live debut as The Night Tripper in the UK at one of the legendary Bath Festivals, check out the flyer above – what an amazing bill), and some two thousand sessions and guest appearance (!), there are connections with the Deep Purple scene.

Some will know that Tommy Bolin worked with Dr. John at one point, although details are a bit sketchy. Three tracks are known to exist, and also feature Alphonse Mouzon on drums. They have not been issued officially but do circulate on whatever the modern version of a cassette is these days (Tommy Taylor where are you now!?). The songs were cut in 1975 after the Mind Transplant sessions in Los Angeles and while the tapes are lousy and are regarded as demos, they do suggest the tracks were pretty much finished up wherever the quarter inch masters are.

I must admit I had forgotten that when Ian Gillan and Roger Glover wanted some funky piano on their Accidentally On Purpose album, they also turned to Dr. John.  He plays his fingers off on two of the covers,  Can’t Believe You Wanna Leave and Purple People Eater. This album was cut in 1988 and came close to cracking the American charts at one point. Well worth checking out (there have been umpteen reissues) if you don’t know it, there are some great songs on there. I wasn’t alone in feeling there was a career choice to be made there instead of slogging it out with the increasingly fraught reunion!

Thanks to Matthew Kean, Tim Summers, Timothy Campbell, Mark Maddock.

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4 Responses to “Malcolm John Rebennack Jr.”

  1. Kosh Says:

    Boy is that a hard listen. We all know the intro is easy to play, yet can still sound fresh and energised in the right hands. To play smoke without feeling, intent etc. is to utterly disengage one’s audience. So poodle it’s made my straight hair curl… the 80s hair metal sound needs to be laid to rest, this version of Smoke (a brilliant piece of music in its original form) surely represents a nail in the coffin of the pinched harmonic… please make it stop.

  2. nick robinson Says:

    One might also compare the bass lines to “You keep on moving” and “Walk on gilded splinters”…

  3. jeff duponte Says:

    There’s a turn around on Bolin’s “Bustin out for Rosey” that’s almost a direct lift from D. John. Where the females vocals sort of stabs.

  4. Arthur Smith Says:

    Yes I agree with you re Accidently on Purpose, I was kind of over the reunion excitement by then and was missing Rainbow who I thought had been more modern sounding. I had liked Accidently on Purpose far more than House of Blue Light and thought DP should have gone their separate ways with the odd reunion tour, as bands do now.

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