Per a statement, the as-yet-untitled film will examine Dr. John’s life and career largely in relation to his hometown of New Orleans — how the city shaped him and vice versa. To that end, the film will explore how Dr. John (real name Mac Rebennack) grew up steeped in the city’s myriad cultures and styles of music, and how Rebennack, who was white, and his often black bandmates had to skirt segregation rules and defend each other during the Jim Crow era.
“He was such a unique individual and a shining example of the great melting pot of American music,” Auerbach said of Dr. John in a statement. “From his mysterious voodoo stage persona Dr. John to his real, humble self Mac Rebannack — the street poet, the family man, the junkie, the Grammy award winner and all that’s in between, this documentary will introduce the world to him in a way they haven’t seen him before. I’m still learning bits about him that I never knew, and I hope the movie provides a lens into the story of the life of Dr. John.”
The Dr. John doc is being produced by the musician’s longtime managers Ed Gerrard and Peter Himberger of Impact Artist Productions, in partnership with Jon Kamen and Jon Doran of RadicalMedia, which just executive-produced Questlove’s Summer of Soul doc. Independent producer Leopoldo Gout will also work as an EP on the film.
Back in 2012, Auerbach produced Dr. John’s album, Locked Down, which went on to win the Grammy for Best Blues Album the following year. After Dr. John died of heart failure in 2019, Auerbach recalled in an interview with Rolling Stone, “We lost one of the greatest musicians who ever lived and also one of the greatest reflections of this country, musically, in one man. He was a human melting pot, a human embodiment of what makes American music great. He grew up with different races and experiences, and it made him the most incredible mutt ever. We lost something that will never be duplicated.”