Dr. John was that incredibly cool uncle you couldn’t wait to see at Christmas. You wanted to sit beside him and hear him talk. You knew he had done and seen things beyond your wildest imagination, but didn’t talk about it.

I’ve gone through my share of musical phases — a period of time when I obsess over an artist. This usually comes to an end once I figure out what they are up to. They’re great until you figure out their rhythm, then the mystery is over. The truly great artists are the ones you never fully figure out. They never let you catch onto them, and that keeps you coming back. George Carlin, Miles Davis, Pablo Picasso, Tom Waits, Aretha Franklin, Dr. John — they are or were all like this.

Dr. John could put himself into any musical situation and be the best in the room. He could fill a jazz club with music intellectuals, pen and paper in hand, taking notes on his choice of chord voicings. He could play a filthy blues bar in New Orleans, accompany a gospel choir on a Hammond organ, play second line with a brass band, and hang with Mardi Gras Indians. He embodied all the strands of New Orleans music. I thought I had heard it all until I came across his 1984 single Jet Set. Dr. John rapping? Inventing words like “confusementalism”? …Why not?

I could talk forever about the impact Mac Rebennack had on me. The simple fact is that after countless hours dedicating my radio show to the music of New Orleans, after all the research into new artists and all the rabbit holes I went down to seek out its forefathers, I’ve played Dr. John more than any other artist. And that is a space that will never be filled.

The doctor is of course best known for Right Place, Wrong Time and Such a Night, but his list of classics is endless. Here are 10 of my favourite tunes by the New Orleans legend.