Dr. John’s longtime sideman Herman Ernest III died Sunday at the age of 59. The drummer had battled cancer for several years and had been hospitalized a number of times. Despite his fragile condition, Ernest continued to perform with Dr. John whenever his health allowed, including a set at the New Orleans Jazz And Heritage Festival in 2010. The drummer had also worked with such acts as Aaron Neville, Ramsey Lewis, Snooks Eaglin, Irma Thomas, Shemekia Copeland, Guitar Shorty, and Marcia Ball. He appeared on the instructional video New Orleans Drumming alongside other pivotal Crescent City drummers Herlin Riley, Johnny Vidacovich, and Earl Palmer. Ernest performed on almost every Dr. John release over the past two decades and played his final recording session for the upcoming release Nine Lives, a musical based on Dan Baum’s book of the same title.