Dr John: “People had never seen things onstage like Chicken Man biting the heads off chickens…”

The Night Tripper on Methadone, N'Awlins voodoo and getting shot in the finger

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How were you introduced to “Gris-gris”?
CM Rodger, Glasgow
When I first got affiliated to Deacon Frank Lastie in the Spiritual Church of New Orleans. His wife, who was a Reverend Mother, she opened that up to me, and kept opening it up until she died. On her deathbed, she told me about things that wouldn’t happen until 10 years later. The point to me was, she gave me so much else: I had a back problem from being on Methadone, and she passed a hatchet, wrapped in curry leaves over my back, and she healed me. I was around people with a whole other way of looking at things and it affects how I look at things today.

What’s all the stuff on your stick? You’ve got your artist pass from The Last Waltz… What else?
Dan Auerbach, The Black Keys
Well, I have things that come from all over the world and… a little gris-gris bag here, some bones here, some Masai feathers. This is from Hindi people. This is an alligator tooth from Louisiana. My Uncle extracted this one. I have all of my NA [Narcotics Anonymous] things. This is from Thailand… I have some friend’s ashes, more bones. This is from Nepal. This is from native people in the US. They’re all spiritual things. I like to keep the spirit near me always. It goes through a machine at customs. I had to take some things out after an experience with customs officers.  That’s OK – you have to learn.

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Photo: Michael Wilson

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