Interview: Dr. John

Photos by Dan Hack Sr. Listen to the audio from the interview!

DH: You’re a six-time Grammy winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Louisiana Music Hall of fame, Blues Hall of Fame, vocalist, guitarist, pianist, thank you for coming today to show us you skills. On behalf of all of us we thank you. Growing up in New Orleans, the place where Africa meets Creole meets all kinds of different stuff, how did you get your own inspirations?

DJ: You know what, I was studying the guitar back in the day, and I had three great, great guitar teachers. I had AJ Gomo, and he turned me on to a guy named Papous, Fats Domino’s guitar player, and he turned me on to a guy, he said, “I don’t really have time to teach you no mo’.” He said to start studying with Ron Montrol and Ron had played with everybody. I mean he played jazz gigs, he played R&B gigs, he played anything, so he was a very versatile cat. He took me and gave me music I had never heard before, like flamenco music. And I heard some jazz players that was slammin’- I never heard any guitar player ever play something that I thought was slammin’ like that. It blew me away. So that was my third guitar teacher and then when I came to- when I  got shot in my finger, when I got shot in this finger it was hanging by a piece of string like that. I mean it was skin, but when he shot this sucker, I was trying to pull a guy’s eye out of his head.

[pullquote]When I got shot in my finger, it was hanging by a piece of string[/pullquote]

DH: I’m sure he deserved it.

DJ: Well I was pissed off like gangbusters. Anyway, I was trying to get- then I grabbed a cymbal and cut his face all up and then I was still mad. They put me in jail for attempted robbery and, uh, this guy was a big lottery guy in the state of Florida.

DH: So he had some pull?dr john and skull

DJ: Well obviously, lottery guys always had pull; they got a lot of people in their pockets. So anyway this guy got me put in jail for attempted robbery and that was after my first time in the penitentiary, and it was coming close to the second time I was in the joint. Back then they didn’t have no such thing as a rehab, they didn’t have no such a thing as all the shit they’ve got today. People had to roll for real, you went to the joint, and you had to be up for that shit then.

[pullquote]Buddy is my partner . . . I love this cat, he’s old school. [/pullquote]

DH: So among your many times playing with people in the world, Chicago blues musicians come to mind?

DJ: Oh man, Muddy Waters, but I’ll never forget it, The Last Waltz. They should have had the camera on Muddy playing “Nine Below Zero” and that was – can’t think of the cat’s name – but it was a bad ass song.

DH: So you’ve played with the Stones, Clapton, and all these people. How do you choose what song to play when someone comes around like E.C., Mick Jagger and all these people. Do you cooperate on something or what happens?

DJ: I don’t know, you know what, I’m gonna tell you straight up, I didn’t think the Beatles were gonna make it, I didn’t think the Rolling Stones was gonna make it, I didn’t think that Elvis Presley was gonna make it, I thought a lot of acts that made it big wasn’t gonna make it and you know, I didn’t give a damn.

DH: For sure, they were gonna make it or break it on their own.

DJ: Ah! I didn’t get it. Janis Joplin was one of them I saw, “God Damn! This girl can’t sing for shit, she better keep her day job!” But that’s how I felt back in them days and it was the truth.

DH: Causes and important things to you, charities, pleasures – what should we tell the viewers and readers what’s important to you to help people?

DJ: Well I think the New Orleans musician’s clinic is hip thing if you want to spend a little money and help some people because the stupid governor of Louisiana, this idiot he ain’t let nothing slide and he’s an idiot. That’s how governorship is in an ignorant state, because people they just don’t have no smarts.

[pullquote]Janis Joplin was one of them I saw, “God Damn! This girl can’t sing for shit, she better keep her day job!”[/pullquote]

DH: Here in Illinois we have some politicians with trouble.

DJ: Hey, you know that, I been knowin’ that for a long time.

DH: Thank you so much for coming by, we love your show and we love you as a person and artist.

DJ: Buddy is my partner, he’s one of my oldest school partners and he came up in Louisiana, and I love this cat, he’s old school.

Doctor John - Dan Hack

Dan Hack

Dan Hack

Dan Hack is a born n' raised South Side of Chicago guy. In fact he's still living in the same zip code as in his youth, when he discovered the album Electric Mud by Muddy Waters back in 1972, at age 13. He was electrified, and has been addicted to Chicago Blues ever since. He has been interviewing musicians and writing for BG:Blues and Music News since 2013.

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