Pancho just called to tell me that Mac Rebennack, aka Dr. John, has died, age 77. Truly one of the greats; he probably performed more different types of music than any of the top New Orleans musicians. (Which is saying something.) I had one of my more interesting backstage experiences with him when he toured for his most popular album, In the Right Place. While I interviewed Mac before his show at the Harrisburg Area Community College, as the sun went down outside, his make-up people were busy draping him with beads and feathers, applying glitter, and adding a skull or two. I was listening to what he was saying more than watching them, and suddenly, when I looked up, instead of the pleasant, regular-looking guy in a striped shirt I’d been talking to, I was staring right at ‘the Night Tripper.’ Gave me quite a jolt, but being able to hang out with Dr. John, however briefly, definitely was being in the right place.
p.s. I had a not-very-good camera with me, and took a few not-very-good photos – including one of someone tying on something around Mac’s ankles, and another of his cane. Interestingly, a light leak in the camera added some emphasis to the negatives – a little gris-gris, I suppose you might say.