Foto by Phil Jacobs
I was having dinner with Vanessa in town tonight. Our Izze had a sleepover so we had a date… sort of. I was just tasting my Thai Iced Coffee when I got a text from my old pal Michael Falzarano. The simple gist was that Dr. John The Night Tripper, aka Mac Rebennack had just passed away. I met Mac through Steve Mann in 1964 before my foray into rock ‘n’ roll. Mac and Steve were session players back then and Steve was trying to teach me to read so I could cut the gig too. It wasn’t for me, but we stayed friends. In 1965 when I got into the Airplane and moved to San Francisco on Divisadero between Turk and Eddy I got a call from Steve from the Swiss American Hotel in North Beach where he was bunking with Mac. There was some sort of confrontation between the guys and the police. I think women and drugs sere involved, but I wasn’t there so I can’t swear to it. Anyway, they came to my place and stayed for a couple of days until things cooled off. San Francisco was a very conservative place back then and any bust could turn out to be a major drag.
In any case, years passed. Mac became Dr. John, Steve would live a damaged life and we would all get older. In the late 90’s, I was part of a Seva benefit. Bonnie Raitt and John Lee Hooker were on that show. I was sharing a dressing room with Maria Muldaur, Dr. John and Bob Weir. Mac took me aside and is his raspy voice said, ‘Jorma, I owe you a solid… but I’m not going to tell you what it is.’ I guess I’ll have to wait to find out… I’m not in a rush. Steve Mann passed away but I would see Mac from time to time. He was indeed, the King Of New Orleans Funk! Indeed! I will miss our occasional intersections.
After dinner Nessa and I were over at her sister’s place sitting in my Jeep when I got a call from my friend Mark in Florida. His mom, Madelaine, passed away this afternoon at one hundred and one. Madelaine had lived in Florida for years, but she was a Meigs County girl… one of our own. Any time I would see her when Nessa wasn’t with me she would say, ‘Where is that pretty girl?’ She was a Steel Magnolia… and here’s to her and those like her… damn few left.
So I lost two more friends today and yes I know, sorrow is so selfish, but when the fury of the moment has passed, what is left but love?
We are all losing people… that’s life and I’m not alone. It is an honor for having known the good ones!