Alison Fensterstock

The music legend, guitarist, piano man, jive talker and psychedelic godfather Malcolm John Rebennack – better known as Dr. John – died "towards the break of day" on Thursday, of a heart attack, a statement has confirmed. He was 77.

On a sunny Thursday afternoon in May, the corner of First Street and LaSalle in New Orleans' Central City neighborhood was lively. Kids tooled around on bikes and grown-up neighbors danced to the sounds of DJ Jubilee and Al Green, spun onstage by DJ Mannie Fresh, the producer whose exceptional skills put Cash Money Records on the map back in the '90s. The party was hosted by PJ Morton — a native New Orleanian and the keyboardist for Maroon 5 — who followed Fresh's set with a long, jammy performance of his song "New Orleans Girl," including both a bounce verse and a trombone solo.

Growing up in the late 1950s and early '60s, Betty Cantor developed an early talent for tinkering. "I used to take things like radios, other little electronic devices if they didn't work, open them up, mess with them, put them back together and they worked," she remembers during a recent phone call. "I could fix watches that wouldn't work for anybody else." Her fascination with how things worked helped her breeze through the available math and science classes at her Martinez, Calif.

As part of NPR Music's Turning the Tables, we are looking closely at some of the albums on our list of the 150 Greatest Albums Made by Women. Today's feature is Pirates, the second album by Rickie Lee Jones. She will perform the album in full at Lincoln Center Out of Doors on Wednesday, July 26.


The pirates first announced themselves to Rickie Lee Jones in New Orleans, in the fall of 1979, with a delivery of mysterious gifts.