Sunday, June 23, 2019

Dr. John’s Second Line Funeral - New Orleans - A Closer Look

"Dr. John’s second line funeral ... with horse-drawn hearse to carry the coffin, jazz musicians, enormous crowd.." Image: Times Picayune

Dr. John’s Second Line Jazz Funeral - New Orleans - A Closer Look

In my opinion, we owe deep gratitude to the priests at New Orleans Jesuit High School, who in about 1965, gave the world a precious gift. The good fathers disapproved of Malcolm John Rebennack’s part-time gigs in night clubs. Performing on stage with Professor Longhair, it seems, didn’t exactly suit their motto “Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam” (For the Greater Glory of God,) so they issued young Malcolm an ultimatum to stop playing, or leave school. He chose the latter.

By the time I saw him on stage for the first time, in 1972 I believe it was, he had gained rock-n-roll fame with his personal brand of New Orleans jazz, funk, and rhythm and blues. I recall the way he ran his fingers down the keyboard, Little Richard-style, as well as his incomparable integration of saxophonists and back-up singers.  “Jock-a-mo fee na-né” (Chaque amour fi na né)

Dr. John was born in the same New Orleans neighborhood as Louis Armstrong.

Who remembers when he won a Grammy Award for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for "Makin' Whoopee" in 1989?

Media images of Dr. John’s New Orleans second line funeral captured a spectacular celebration, with a horse-drawn hearse to carry the coffin, and an enormous crowd. Members of the Young Men Olympians Benevolent Association, a Second Line organization with historical ties to 1884, accompanied the coffin.

There can’t be a more joyous “send-off” than a New Orleans second line. Try to imagine the effect of saxophones, trumpets and trombones, of music vibrating inside your chest and head, while being surrounded by a large grief-stricken yet celebratory crowd. It would undoubtedly be moving. Even more so, if fortified with a good drink. On Saturday, New Orleans sent Dr. John to his rest.

I downloaded some images from Dr. John’s Second Line funeral, which was held in New Orleans on June 22, 2019. All of these photos are by Brett Duke, courtesy of / The Times-Picayune.

“If I don’t do it, somebody else will. If I don’t do it, somebody else will.”

Malcolm John Rebennack (Dr. John) 1940-2019

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