(CelebrityAccess) — Leon Redbone, the eclectic singer-songwriter known for his affinity for antique music, sunglasses, and Panama hats, died on Thursday. He was 69.
Redbone’s passing was announced by his family on social media in a typically Leon Redbone fashion:
“It is with heavy hears we announce that early this morning, May 30th, 2019, Leon Redbone crossed the delta for that beautiful shore at the age of 127. He departed our world with his guitar, his trusty companion rover and a simple tip of his hat. He’s interested to see what Blind Blake, Emmett and Jelly Roll have been up to in his absence and has plans for a rousing sing along number with Sari Barabas. An eternity of pouring through texts in the Library of Ashurbanipal will be a welcome repose, perhaps followed by a shot or two of whiskey with Leo Morse, and some long overdue discussions with his favorite Uncle, Suppiluliuma I of the Hittites. To his fans, friends, and loving family who have already been missing him so in this realm, he says, “Oh behave yourselves. Thank you…and good evening everybody.”
Redbone, who, according to the Toronto Star, was once named Dickran Gobalian, first began performing in and around the Toronto folk scene in the early 1970s after emigrating to Canada from Cyrus, performing music drawn from the worlds of Vaudeville, ragtime and Tin Pan Alley.
He signed with Warner Records and released his debut LP “On the Track” and started to gain traction with wider audiences through appearances on programming such as A Prairie Home Companion and Saturday Night Live. He was also a frequent guest performer on the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.
He also appeared regularly on the children’s television show Between the Lions, which ran for a decade on PBS, starting in 2000.
He released his final studio album “Long Way From Home: Early Recordings” in 2016.
“I knew Leon Redbone in the late ’60s when he was a pool shark in a pool hall at the subway entrance of Bloor and Yonge streets. Back then he was called Turnpike Lenny. if you asked for Mr. Grunt, he would, guardedly, answer the phone. A fixture in Yorkville Village’s folk clubs, he also had an acoustic duo, called Little Sonny, with guitarist David Wilcox,” said CelebrityAccess Senior Editor Larry LeBlanc, who is also a resident of Toronto.
Leon performing at the Buffalo Folk Festival in 1973