May he rest in peace.

Kelly Jay Fordham, founding member of Crowbar, dead at 77

A legendary Canadian rocker and member of Crowbar has passed away.

Kelly Jay Fordham, 77, died Friday morning at 2 a.m., his son wrote in a Facebook post.

“I just wanted to say I love you dad, and that I look forward now to getting to see you on the other side some day,” his son, Hank Fordham, wrote.

The singer, songwriter, and pianist who helped to co-write the famous 1971 hit Oh, What A Feeling had been in hospital in Calgary since early June after suffering a stroke, which his family had been told he wouldn’t recover from.

Crowbar was formed in 1970 in Hamilton, Ont. The group of musicians, including Fordham, was formerly the backup band for Ronnie Hawkins before being fired. The band’s name was taken from a colourful remark from Hawkins, who noted after firing them they “could (mess) up a crowbar in 15 second.”

Fordham settled in Calgary sometime after Crowbar broke up in 1975.

Oh What a Feeling hit number 10 on the Canadian charts and was inducted into the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011.

Fordham told Postmedia in 2009 he believed the misconception that the song was about drugs was why it never received airplay in the United States.

“It was written in 1969. Man walked on the moon. Woodstock. The summer of love. It was written about the times, about everything that was happening,” Fordham said after the song became the official theme of the 2009 Grey Cup in Calgary. “The song was meant to be celebratory.”


I saw TOY STORY 4 this weekend and I was mostly bored. It’s very funny, but they should have stopped at 3.

Toy Story 4 not playing around with $118 million opening weekend

The toys did not come to play this weekend at the box office.

Child’s playthings were the talk of the box office with Pixar’s Toy Story 4 easily taking the top slot with an estimated $118 million in ticket sales across 4,575 theaters. And they weren’t the only toys with some box office mojo — horror remake Child’s Play takes second place with an estimated $14.1 million across 3,007 theaters.

Disney is having a fantastic year at the box office with the four best openings of the year, including animated sequel Toy Story 4. Much of the beloved Toy Story gang, including Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, return to voice the beloved toys who take us on adventures both amusing and heartbreaking. Toy Story 4 follows Woody (Hanks) as he sets out to domesticate new toy Forky (Tony Hale) and teach him the ways of being a toy the refuse-made spork believes he’s ‘trash’). Along the way, Woody reconnects with lost love Bo Peep (Annie Potts), as Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) and Jessie (Joan Cusack) mobilize at home to keep their kid Bonnie happy. Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Jordan Peele, and Keegan-Michael Key are among the other new voices joining the franchise.

Despite coming in slightly under expectations (projections had it at a $140 to $165 million opening), Toy Story 4 still earns some major box office credentials with its opening, becoming both only the third release of 2019 to cross $100 million in its first weekend, as well as one of the biggest animated openings of all time. Two other Pixar films top the list, 2018’s Incredibles 2 is number one with its $182.7 million opening and 2016’s Finding Dory is in second place with a $135.1 million opening. Toy Story 4 comes in just behind 2007’s Shrek the Third, which opened to $121.6 million.

It also bested its predecessor, 2010’s Toy Story 3, which opened to $110.3 million. Animated films aren’t necessarily known for boffo box office, but tend to show longevity, which means Toy Story 4 is likely to hold steady over the next few weeks. It also earned an estimated $120 million abroad this weekend, bringing its opening global total to $238 million. Generally favorable reviews and a terrific A CinemaScore suggest the film will maintain its box office success.

Another toy, murderous doll Chucky, takes second place with an estimated $14.1 million in ticket sales. Child’s Play is a remake of the 1988 sequel-spawning film. After moving to a new town, Andy (Gabriel Bateman) receives a new toy who quickly takes on a life of its own, and he must band with the neighborhood kids to stop the toy’s murderous intentions.

Mark Hamill (Star Wars) stars as the voice of Chucky, with Gabriel Bateman, Aubrey Plaza, and Brian Tyree Henry among the cast terrorized by the notorious plaything. Reviews for Child’s Play were not favorable and audiences agreed, giving it a dismal C+ CinemaScore.

This weekend’s other new release, Luc Besson’s Anna, failed to even hit the top 10 with a grim $3.5 million opening. It marks the worst opening for a Besson project; numerous women have alleged Besson’s sexual misconduct and when actress Sand Van Roy filed a complaint against Besson in May it delayed the release of this action thriller. Sasha Luss stars as Anna the assassin, while Luke Evans, Cillian Murphy, Helen Mirren and Alexander Petrov also feature.

Disney rounds out the top three with Aladdin taking third place in its fifth week in theaters. The live-action adaptation of the beloved animated film boasts a $12.2 million total across 3,435 theaters. The film now has an impressive global total of $810.1 million. Aladdin is the third highest-grossing film of 2019 thus far, with a domestic total of $287.5 million, coming in behind two Marvel titles Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel.

Rounding out the top five are two franchise titles. Fourth place goes to Men In Black International, taking in an estimated $10.8 million across 4,224 theaters. It’s already disappointing box office fell by 64 percent in only its second weekend in theaters. Another animated property takes fifth place with Universal’s Secret Life of Pets 2 pulling in an estimated $10.1 million in ticket sales across 3,804 theaters in its third weekend out.

Overall box office is down 8.9 percent to date, according to Comscore. Check out the June 21-23 numbers below.

1. Toy Story 4 — $118 million
2. Child’s Play — $14.1 million
3. Aladdin — $12.2 million
4. Men In Black International — $10.8 million
5. Secret Life of Pets 2 — $10.1 million
6. Rocketman — $5.7 million
7. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum — $4.1 million
8. Godzilla: King of the Monsters— $3.7 million
9. Dark Phoenix — $3.6 million
10. Shaft — $3.6 million


Saw DARK PHOENIX and ROCKETMAN this week and they were both awful. Couldn’t wait for both of them to finish. Complete snores!!!!!

Men in Black: International continues lackluster summer box office with $28.5 million opening

When it comes to the summer, people don’t seem to be turning to the multiplex to beat the heat.

Men in Black: International is the latest summer blockbuster to fail to stun audiences. The Men in Black franchise spin-off wins the weekend with an underwhelming estimated $28.5 million across 4,224 theaters. This falls far behind the last Men in Black film, 2002’s Men in Black II, which opened to $52.1 million.

This disappointing haul is part of a larger trend, however, with previous summer blockbusters Dark Phoenix and Godzilla: King of the Monsters also failing to generate much heat their first weekends out — Dark Phoenix faltered with a massively disappointing $33 million and Godzilla: King of the Monsters fared only slightly better with $47 million.

Rounding out the top three are two holdovers, The Secret Life of Pets 2 and Aladdin. Animated sequel The Secret Life of Pets 2 boasts an estimated $23.8 million across 4,564 theaters in its second weekend in theaters, while Disney’s live action update of Aladdin continues to make box office magic four weeks after its debut. Aladdin takes third place with an estimated $16.7 million across 3,556 theaters. The film is another winner for Disney in a year that’s included Captain Marvel and record-marking Avengers: Endgame. It now boasts an estimated $724.8 million haul worldwide.

Men in Black: International is a spin-off of the beloved franchise anchored by Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones. The new film stars Tessa Thompson and Chris Hemsworth as Agent H and Agent M, respectively. The two partner up from inside the London Bureau of the secret organization dedicated to monitoring and taking down alien life forms that pose a threat to humanity. Here, they must attempt to locate and eliminate a mole within the Men in Black organization. Liam Neeson, Emma Thompson, Rafe Spall, Rebecca Ferguson, and Kumail Nanjiani also star, and F. Gary Gray (The Fate of the Furious) directs.

The film was never expected to reach the levels of box office success as its Will Smith fronted predecessors, but it’s garnered disappointing reviews from critics and a mediocre B CinemaScore from audiences.

This weekend’s other new release is Warner Bros.’ Shaft, the next chapter in the film franchise about the legendary New York City private detective. The newest entry in this storied franchise failed to wow, taking sixth place in its opening weekend with $8.3 million across 2,952 theaters. Shaft is a sequel to the 2000 film of the same name, which was itself a remake of the 1971 classic also named Shaft.

The latest film has Samuel L. Jackson reprising his role as John Shaft and teaming up with two generations of his family, his son J.J. Shaft (Jessie T. Usher) and father John Shaft Sr. (Richard Roundtree reprising his original role from the 1971 film). Method Man, Regina Hall, Alexandra Shipp, and Matt Lauria also star, while Tim Story directs. Critics were not jazzed about the film, but audiences loved it giving it a sterling A CinemaScore.

Mindy Kaling’s Late Night expanded to wide release this weekend, going from four locations last week to 2,220 this weekend. It lands in the ninth spot at the box office with an estimated $5.1 million in ticket sales, a slightly disappointing expansion giving its promising numbers in only four locations its first weekend out. Kaling, who also wrote the script, stars as female staff writer Molly who disrupts the boys’ club of the writers’ room and the life of late-night host Katherine Newbury (Emma Thompson).

Two other previous releases round out the top five. Dark Phoenix is fourth in its second weekend out, posting an estimated $9 million across 3,721 theaters. Director Simon Kinberg took responsibility for the film’s dismal box office numbers, saying, “That’s on me.” Musical Elton John biopic Rocketman solidly lands in fifth place in its third weekend of release with an estimated $8.8 million across 3,021 theaters.

Overall box office is down 7.1 percent to date, according to Comscore. This number has increased by two percent in a single week after steadily declining the last few months. Check out the June 14-16 numbers below.

1. Men in Black: International — $28.5 million
2. The Secret Life of Pets 2 — $23.8 million
3. Aladdin — $16.7 million
4. Dark Phoenix — $9 million
5. Rocketman — $8.8 million
6. Shaft — $8.3 million
7. Godzilla: King of the Monsters — $8.1 million
8. John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum — $6.1 million
9. Late Night — $5.1 million
10. Ma — $3.6 million


Very cool and very well deserving!!

Dwayne Johnson to Receive ‘Generation’ Award at 2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards

MTV has announced that Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be honored with the “Generation” Award during the “2019 MTV Movie & TV Awards.”

Johnson previously hosted the show in 2016 with “Central Intelligence” co-star Kevin Hart. The “Generation” Award celebrates “beloved actors whose diverse contributions to both film and television have turned them into household names in the industry,” according to MTV. Past recipients include Chris Pratt, Will Smith, Reese Witherspoon, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Wahlberg, Sandra Bullock, Jamie Foxx, Johnny Depp, Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler, Mike Myers, Tom Cruise, Jim Carrey and the entire “Fast & Furious” franchise.

“Johnson is an icon on both film and TV who has become one of the most beloved actors of our generation,” said Amy Doyle, general manager, MTV, VH1, CMT and Logo. “Throughout his career, Johnson has proven to be the ultimate badass – an action star with a flair for comedy, one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time and a true family man. He continues to captivate his audience worldwide and we are thrilled to celebrate him with the Generation Award.”

MTV revealed earlier this week that Jada Pinkett Smith will be honored with the “Trailblazer” Award at the ceremony hosted by “Shazam!” star Zachary Levi.

“RBG,” “Game of Thrones” and “Avengers: Endgame” received the most nominations this year, with four apiece. New categories which will feature at the 2019 awards include Reality Royalty, Most Meme-able Moment, and Best Real-Life Hero. In terms of musical performances, so far MTV has revealed that Lizzo will be taking to the stage, as well as singer, songwriter and producer Bazzi, who will perform his song “Paradise.”

The 2019 “MTV Movie & TV Awards” will air Monday, June 17 at 9:00 PM ET/PT.


I love the characters but the show is getting kind of boring. Hope it ends strong.

‘The Good Place’ to end after fourth season

“The Good Place” will end its run after its fourth season next year, creator Mike Schur revealed on Friday at the show’s Emmy FYC panel.

Speaking in front of a full house at the TV Academy’s Saban Theatre in North Hollywood, Schur revealed that the show’s writers plan was to tell a four-season story and that’s exactly what they planned to do.

“It’s a bullet train it doesn’t slow down for anything,” Schur said of the final season.

The series stars admitted they appreciated the fact that they were ending the show on their own terms, even though they were sad to see it end. “Much respect,” said star Ted Danson. “I know we do fart jokes but this is a serious show.”

“Any padding or over-telling a really great story would be a shame.”

Added D’Arcy Carden, who plays Janet: “We all learned together, my reaction was ‘cool, ok, yeah,’ and 24 hours later it was, ‘I think I’m depressed!’

“I have so much respect for Mike and the writers and I have always been a fan of shows that go out on their own terms.”

“The Good Place,” from Universal TV, has been critically acclaimed from launch, and at the recent network upfronts NBC revealed that via multiple platforms and streaming it is actually the network’s most-watched show.

The freshman sitcom premiered in 2016 to solid ratings, attracting the best ratings for a new Peacock comedy since 2012.

“After ‘The Good Place’ was picked up for season two, the writing staff and I began to map out, as best we could, the trajectory of the show,” Schur said in a statement. “Given the ideas we wanted to explore, and the pace at which we wanted to present those ideas, I began to feel like four seasons – just over 50 episodes – was the right lifespan. At times over the past few years we’ve been tempted to go beyond four seasons, but mostly because making this show is a rare, creatively fulfilling joy, and at the end of the day, we don’t want to tread water just because the water is so warm and pleasant. As such, the upcoming fourth season will be our last.”

Per NBC, “The Good Place” averaged a 1.6 rating in adults 18-49 last season and 4.6 million viewers overall in live plus seven day ratings. Counting digital viewership only, “The Good Place” was up season to season by 38% in 18-49.

“Since day one, ‘The Good Place’ has been a seminal show for us and one that hits all the NBC touch points – incredibly smart, funny, inventive and emotional,” said Lisa Katz and Tracey Pakosta, Co-Presidents of Scripted Programming, NBC Entertainment. “We know the audience will love what Mike Schur and his writers have in store for the final season.”

Since its launch in 2016, “The Good Place” has won the AFI Award for Program of the Year, TCA Award for Program of the Year, a Humanitas Award and a Peabody Award. In addition, the series has been nominated for a Golden Globe Award, Writers Guild Award, Producers Guild Award and Critics’ Choice Award.

A show that has explored philosophy., the afterlife and everything in between, “The Good Place” stars Ted Danson, Kristen Bell, William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, Manny Jacinto and D’Arcy Carden.

Schur, David Miner, Morgan Sackett and Drew Goddard executive produce.


Can’t wait to see it!!!

Ghostbusters reboot director says original stars have read script of new film

Director Jason Reitman revealed Saturday afternoon that the stars of the original Ghostbusters have read the script of his new film in the franchise. “Sigourney has read the screenplay… Dan has read it… Ernie’s read the script… Bill Murray has read the script,” Reitman said at the Ghostbusters Fan Fest in Los Angeles, according to the official Ghostbusters Twitter account.

In an interview with Parade published on Friday, Weaver had seemingly confirmed that she was set to reunite with Murray and Aykroyd in Reitman’s film. “It’s going to be crazy working with the guys again!” Weaver told the magazine. Sony, which is producing the movie, declined to comment on Weaver’s remarks.

Reitman also announced at the event that he was set to shoot starting the movie in five weeks time and that he wants “to scare children.”

In January, EW broke the news that Reitman is directing and co-writing a new Ghostbusters movie set in the same world as the 1984 original. That movie was directed by his father, Ivan Reitman.

“I’ve always thought of myself as the first Ghostbusters fan, when I was a 6-year-old visiting the set,” the younger Reitman said at the time. “I wanted to make a movie for all the other fans. This is the next chapter in the original franchise. It is not a reboot. What happened in the ‘80s happened in the ‘80s, and this is set in the present day.”

The new Ghostbusters will be released on July 10, 2020.


I will see DARK PHOENIX, but I’m in absolutely no rush.

Dark Phoenix fails to catch fire, loses box office to The Secret Life of Pets 2

Dark Phoenix was meant to rise from the ashes of the critically reviled 2016 X-Men: Apocalypse to send the X-Men franchise on a high note — but it failed to catch fire at the box office.

The superhero film came in second this weekend, opening to only an estimated $33 million across 3,721 theaters, the lowest ever opening for a film in the X-Men franchise. The previously mentioned X-Men: Apocalypse opened to $65.8 million (a step down from predecessor X-Men: Days of Future Past’s $90.8 million opening), and the previous lowest opening in the 19-year franchise was 2013’s The Wolverine with a $53.1 million debut.

Instead of another super-powered weekend, it is something a little closer to home that takes the box office crown — animated sequel The Secret Life of Pets 2. Universal’s family-friendly franchise claims the top spot with an estimated $47.1 million across 4,561 theaters. From Universal’s frequent animation partner Illumination Entertainment, the movie is a follow-up to 2016’s The Secret Life of Pets, which boasted an impressive opening haul of $104.3 million. It’s difficult to compare the projects, however, given that the first The Secret Life of Pets holds the record for the biggest-ever opening for an original film.

The Secret Life of Pets 2 returns to the world of our domesticated animals, asking what our pets do when their owners aren’t at home. The film is stacked with vocal talent with Patton Oswalt, Kevin Hart, Harrison Ford, Eric Stonestreet, Dana Carvey, Garth Jennings, Lake Bell, Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate, Ellie Kemper, Pete Holmes, Bobby Moynihan, Hannibal Buress, and Tiffany Haddish all lending their voice-over skills to the project. It earned a solid A- Cinemascore from audiences, and critics mostly gave it a lukewarm response.

The animated flick is the tenth partnership between Universal and Illumination Entertainment, but it fell short of their previous outing, last winter’s Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch, which opened to $67.6 million and went on to gross $270.6 million.

Dark Phoenix stumbled domestically with its disappointing $33 million second place opening, but it fared better overseas. Its international debut is an estimated $107 million in ticket sales, making it the number one worldwide release with a global debut of $140 million. Critical response has not been glowing and audiences don’t seem to have a much higher opinion, giving it a dismal B- CinemaScore.

It stars Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner as Jean Grey as she evolves into the titular Dark Phoenix. During a mission to space, Jean is hit by a cosmic force that transforms her into one of the most powerful mutants around. Many of the rebooted franchise’s regulars return for what has been announced as a finale of sorts, including James McAvoy, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, Nicholas Hoult, Evan Peters, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tye Sheridan, and Alexandra Shipp. Jessica Chastain also joins the cast, and frequent X-Men scribe Simon Kinberg makes his directorial debut with the project.

The weekend also saw the release of two films in limited release, Mindy Kaling’s Late Night and Ron Howard’s documentary Pavarotti. The R-rated comedy Late Night opened in only four locations in New York and Los Angeles this weekend and showed a solid debut of $249,654. It opens wide next weekend. The film, which marks Kaling’s first feature script, opened at Sundance Film Festival early this year and sold to Amazon for $13 million.

Mindy Kaling also stars as Molly, a woman who becomes the only female star writer on a late night television series struggling to stay relevant. Emma Thompson also stars as legendary late night host Katherine Newbury. Katherine struggles to keep control of her show, while forming a reluctant bond with Molly. John Lithgow, Hugh Dancy, Denis O’Hare, Amy Ryan, Reid Scott, Max Casella, Ike Barinholtz, Paul Walter Hauser, and John Early also star, while Nisha Ganatra directs.

Ron Howard’s third outing as a documentarian, Pavarotti, also opened in limited release this weekend at 19 screens across the U.S. and Canada. In this platform release, the CBS Films documentary took in an estimated $142,500. The documentary uses the opera music Pavarotti made famous to tell the story of this great performer, voice, and humanitarian.

Box office holdovers round out the top five with Disney’s live action Aladdin taking the third place spot in its third weekend with an estimated $24.5 million across 3,805 theaters. Aladdin now boasts a domestic total of $232.4 million in its three weekends out. Godzilla: King of the Monsters fell by a whopping 67 percent in its second weekend out, taking fourth place with an estimated $15.5 million across 4,108 theaters. The monster epic is grossly underperforming at the box office, which could affect the status of planned franchise entry Godzilla vs. Kong.

Musical biopic Rocketman completes the top five for the weekend with an estimated $14 million in ticket sales across 3,610 theaters. The film’s domestic total is now an estimated $50.5 million, and sits far behind the two-week cumulative gross of Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, which boasted $112.1 million in ticket sales by this same stage in its release.

Overall box office is down 5.9 percent to date, according to Comscore, a number which is steadily improving compared to double digit gaps earlier in 2019. Check out the June 7-9 numbers below.

1. The Secret Life of Pets 2— $47.1 million
2. Dark Phoenix— $33 million
3. Aladdin— $24.5 million
4. Godzilla: King of the Monsters— $15.5 million
5. Rocketman— $14 million
6. Ma— $7.8 million
7. John Wick: Chapter Three–Parabellum — $7.4 million
8. Avengers: Endgame— $4.8 million
9. Pokemon Detective Pikachu— $3 million
10. Booksmart— $1.6 million


I’ve always wanted to know the answer to this!!


You’ve probably listened to the Electric Light Orchestra’s Top 5 1979 hit “Don’t Bring Me Down” and thought: So, who’s Bruce? After all, singer-songwriter Jeff Lynne calls out his name right after the song’s title line.
But there was no Bruce. Lynne used a made-up place-keeper word when the song was still unfinished, only learning later that it perhaps had an actual translation in another language.

“When I was singing it, there was gap in the vocals, so I just shouted out ‘groose,'” Jeff Lynne told Rolling Stone in 2016. “It was a word that came to my head.”

And thus was born another mondegreen — the word given to misheard lyrics that perhaps make sense but are, in fact, completely wrong. (“Mondegreen,” by the way, is itself a mondegreen: The American writer Sylvia Wright misheard a line of 18th-century poetry as “Lady Mondegreen,” when it was actually “laid him on the green.”) The term was created in the ’50s, and then popularized more recently by San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll.

Released on 1979’s Discovery, “Don’t Bring Me Down” made its own kind of history as the first Electric Light Orchestra song without any strings. Lynne did more than ad lib this one line; in fact, he improvised the whole thing.

“I made up [‘Don’t Bring Me Down’] in the studio, and I play all the instruments,” Lynne told Rolling Stone. It starts with a drum loop from another song” — “On the Run,” also from Discovery — “that I sped up. I then compressed the shit out of it.”

As usual, Lynne didn’t present the lyrics until the end. Everything else — even some background singing — was typically recorded before the lead vocal, which was the last thing added.

So, why keep a lyric that was never meant to stay? “The engineer was German and he said, ‘How did you know that word?'” Lynne recalled during a 2001 episode of VH1’s Storytellers. “And I said: ‘What word?’ And he said, ‘Gruss. It means “greetings” in German.’ I said, ‘That’s good. I’ll leave it in.'”

Only ELO engineer Reinhold Mack remembers it quite differently.

“As there was a plan for ELO to start a concert tour in Australia, the song was originally titled ‘Don’t Bring Me Down, Bruce,’ Mack told Sound on Sound in 2013. “This was meant to be a joke, referring to how many Australian guys are called Bruce.”

Mack says a new word was actually added later. “We couldn’t leave it like that, so eventually we replaced it with ‘gruss,’ based on the Bavarian greeting Grüß Gott — ‘greet God.’ Gruss, not Bruce, is what you hear in the song immediately following the title line. A bit like Freddie Mercury joking around at the end of Queen’s [1985 single] ‘One Vision,’ singing ‘fried chicken.'”

After getting a complete take, Lynne typically set about adding a punishing series of overdubs, but this song was different. “It was pretty much done in a day,” Mack noted. “That’s because it’s a very simple, straightforward track — especially compared to the complexity that Jeff usually went for, and clearly people liked it.”

“Don’t Bring Me Down” became the biggest hit ELO ever had on their own in the U.S., topped only by a collaborative single with Olivia Newton-John on “Xanadu,” from the 1980 movie of the same name.

By the time ELO got out on the road in support of Discovery, a new phenomenon was sweeping through the audience — and not just in Australia. “When I went onstage with it,” Lynne told Rolling Stone, “everyone would sing ‘Bruce.'” At first, Lynne stuck to his guns, singing his once-thought-invented, now-maybe-German word instead.

Eventually, however, he caved. “I said ‘Ah, fuck it,'” Lynne told VH1, “I’ll sing ‘Bruce’ as well!”


Such sad news. Rest In Peace, Dr. John!

Grammy-winning New Orleans musician Dr. John dead at 77

Dr. John, a six-time Grammy winner who in his incarnation as the “Night Tripper” brought the New Orleans voodoo vibe to America’s music scene and became one of the most venerated pianists in the city’s rich musical history, died on Thursday at age 77.

The New Orleans native, born Malcolm John Rebennack into a family amateur musicians, including an aunt who taught him to play piano, died “towards the break of day” from a heart attack, his family announced on his official Twitter account.

Immersed in music from a young age, he was an avid radio listener, and his father, who sold records in his appliance store, sometimes took his son along to nightclubs when he worked on their sound systems.

In grade school he began hanging around clubs, and by the time he was a teenager, Rebennack was playing in rough bars and strip clubs. Along the way, he absorbed a blend of rhythm and blues, cowboy songs, gospel and jazz, as well as New Orleans’ Mardi Gras music, boogie, barrelhouse piano and funk – or “fonk,” as he pronounced it.

Early on he was principally a guitarist, but errant gunplay in 1961 led him to change course. One of his fingers was nearly blown off when he intervened to help the singer in his band, who was being pistol-whipped by another man.

The finger did not heal sufficiently for proper guitar playing right away, but was less troublesome on a piano, and eventually Dr. John would become an heir to the New Orleans keyboard tradition of Jelly Roll Morton, Professor Longhair, Huey “Piano” Smith and Fats Domino.

He also was a successful record producer, session player and songwriter in New Orleans before a lifestyle of hanging around addicts, hustlers and thieves while working as a pimp caught up with him.

He had started smoking marijuana at age 12, and was a regular heroin user before being kicked out of high school and landing in prison on drug charges in 1965, he wrote in his autobiography, “Under a Hoodoo Moon.”

By the time he had finished his prison sentence in Texas, the local prosecutor in New Orleans was trying to clean up the city, and he was advised not to return.

That was how he ended up in Los Angeles, nearly 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from his hometown, creating the persona of Dr. John the Night Tripper, a shaman-like figure draped in furs and feathers, beads and Mardi Gras Indian-style headdresses who would make his entrance in a cloud of smoke.

He had concocted the stage character, based on a 19th-century New Orleans medicine man, for another singer but took it on himself when that performer declined to go along.

After working as a studio musician for everyone from Sonny and Cher to the Monkees, Dr. John recorded his first album, “Gris-Gris,” in 1968 with the help of several New Orleans natives.

The record, named for a protective amulet worn in voodoo culture, was inspired by the city’s music with his own twists, making it moody and mysterious with a tinge of psychedelia. It was not a big seller but found a cult audience among rock fans.

In 1972 his “Dr. John’s Gumbo” album featured more traditional New Orleans songs, such as “Iko Iko,” “Junko Partner,” “Blow Wind Blow,” “Big Chief” and “Let the Good Times Roll.”

That was followed in 1973 by “In the Right Place,” which featured two standbys of the New Orleans music scene – producer Allen Touissant and the band The Meters.

With a unique vocal style reminiscent of a bullfrog with a hangover, the album would become Dr. John’s biggest commercial success, thanks to the hits “Right Place, Wrong Time” and “Such a Night.”

“Music is the one thing that keeps me alive and happy. If it don’t be for music, I think I would have threw in the towel,” he told the Times-Picayune newspaper in a 2011 interview.

A conversation with Dr. John almost required a translator to understand his malapropisms, Creole patois, hipster lingo and fabricated words, all spiced with profanities.

“What goes around slides around, and what slides around slips around,” he once told the Times-Picayune in typical Dr. John-speak. “As long as it’s slippin’ and slidin’ around, we ain’t got to trip through the shortcuts of life. We can take the long way around. It’s the shortcuts that kill you.”

After Los Angeles, Dr. John moved to New York in the late 1970s, and in 1989 he finally overcame his heroin problem. He returned to live in the New Orleans area in 2009.

Dr. John recorded some 35 albums, and three of them won Grammys – “Goin’ Back to New Orleans” for best tradition album in 1992; “City That Care Forgot” about the destruction and heartbreak of Hurricane Katrina; and 2013’s “Locked Down,” which touched on his prison time, drugs and efforts to repair his relationship with his children.

He also picked up Grammys for a 1989 duet with Rickie Lee Jones on “Makin’ Whoopee” and his contributions on the songs “SRV Shuffle” in 1996 and “Is You Is or Is You Ain’t (My Baby)” in 2000.

He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.

Dr. John was married twice and told the New York Times he had “a lot” of children.


I’m skeptical, but I’ll watch it.

Robert Pattinson is officially the next Batman

Robert Pattinson just locked down another blockbuster franchise.

Warner Bros. revealed Friday that the actor who brought Edward Cullen to life in the “Twilight” series is the studio’s official choice for the next Batman movie, Deadline reports.

Variety reported earlier this month that Pattinson would be the next actor to take on the role of Bruce Wayne — but Deadline quickly declared that the casting of director Matt Reeves’ movie was hardly a done deal yet.

Also on the Caped Crusader shortlist: Nicholas Hoult. The star of “The Favourite” and “Tolkien” certainly had his supporters, but it is Pattinson’s jaw that will jut out of the iconic black cowl.

Pattinson, 33, will embody Reeves’ origin story, which revolves around the formative stages of young Bruce Wayne. He takes the cape from 46-year-old Ben Affleck after four polarizing entries in the DC Comics cinematic canon.

After a dry period marked by several high-profile flops, Pattinson is on the upswing with strong notices for “High Life” and a starring role in the upcoming Christopher Nolan event film “Tenet.”

“The Batman” is set to hit theaters nationwide June 25, 2021.