Dr. John, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Was 'Surprised' By the News

On retirement, he says, 'I think it's only proper that I play until the last note of a set, then fall over and die'

December 14, 2010 8:00 AM ET
Dr. John, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Was 'Surprised' By the News
David Warner Ellis/Redferns/Getty

Malcolm John Rebennack (aka Dr. John) is a boogie-woogie pianist who made his mark in the late 1950s playing sessions with Joe Tex, Frankie Ford and Professor Longhair. In the late 1960s he started a long and productive solo career, peaking with his 1973 hit single "Right Place Wrong Time." In recent years he's devoted his attention to aiding victims of Hurricane Katrina and the BP oil spill.

First off, congratulations.
Thanks. I feel great. So does this mean that I'm going to get duct-taped to the walls of the Hall of Fame?

Tell me your first reaction to the news.
I was very surprised. I couldn't imagine who could possibly be in this year, but I was thinking it would be Alice Cooper and I figured Joe Tex and Darlene Love deserved it too. I really didn't know who it would be. Thinking of myself, just the way things go, I figured I wouldn't get in. I was very surprised. It's very gratifying.

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It's a good feeling that my peers voted me in. I do know that some dear friends of mine voted for me, like B.B. King, Van Morrison and Keith Richards.

Have you ever been to an induction ceremony?
No, but I did play at the opening party in Cleveland. I really meant something to me to represent for Ray Charles and Fats Domino. I remember seeing Johnny Cash there. I always liked him because he remembered my real name. Not many people do.

Neil Diamond, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Says He Feels 'Very Lucky'

It's been a real long time since I was in the Waldorf Astoria. The last time was a thing for Jackie Kennedy. Me and James Booker wrote something for Jackie and some general or some guy not from this country. It was all very strange...I'm also quite happy that Darlene Love made it. I did sessions with her for Phil Spector a real long time ago.

Have you thought at all about your speech yet?
I have never given a speech in my life. I can get in a certain mode and talk a lot, like I did after Katrina and the BP oil spill. This'll be different, so I'll have to wing it and hopefully I'll do all right.

Alice Cooper, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Was 'Elated' When He Got the News

Are you working on a new album?
I have a new one out called Tribal. I was going to work on a record with Bobby Charles, but then he passed away. Since then I've been trying to revamp some of the stuff.

Darlene Love, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductee, Says She's on Cloud Nine

You just turned 70. Does retirement ever cross your mind?
I think it's only proper that I play until the last note of a set, then fall over and die. The band won't have to play an encore and they'll still get paid for a gig.

Next: Hear 10 Key Tracks by Dr. John

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