Singer Leon Redbone dies at 69

He was the voice of the singing snowman in ‘Elf’

Singer Leon Redbone dies at 69
Musician Leon Redbone, known for wearing a Panama hat and wearing sunglasses died at 69. Supposedly, Bob Dylan discovered him. (Source: Ruritanian/Wikicommons)

(Gray News) - Leon Redbone, a singer who reveled in the ragtime music of vaudeville with his gravelly voice, died early Thursday. He was 69.

“It is with heavy hearts we announce that early this morning, May 30th 2019, Leon Redbone crossed the delta for that beautiful shore at the age 127,” his official website said, channelling some of the singer’s unique sense of humor. “He departed our world with his guitar, his trusty companion Rover, and a simple tip of his hat.”

Redbone was one of the more distinct and characters in music with his sunglasses, Panama hat and thick mustache.

Much of his personal history is a mystery.

He was believed to be Canadian, because he first emerged as a performer in Toronto in the 1970s, according to an Allmusic.com biography.

“A Canadian magazine profile in the ’80s reported that his birth name was Dickran Gobalian, though Redbone has never confirmed or denied that,” the biography says.

Redbone’s musical style was a revival of pre-World War II ragtime, jazz, and blues sounds, recalling the work of performers ranging from Jelly Roll Morton and Bing Crosby to blackface star Emmett Miller.

“I am totally absorbed in the business of learning, but I don’t want to be an apprentice to the business of learning. I simply want to absorb everything I can and not be compartmentalized in my approach," Redbone said on his website.

"I have no great desire to delve into the intricacies of the correct harmony or to notate everything. It doesn’t interest me. I only know what sounds good to me.”

In addition to his music, Redbone did the voice of the singing snowman in the 2003 movie “Elf.”

Redbone came to the attention of Bob Dylan in 1974 at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Ontario.

He made his recording debut two years later with “On the Track,” after landing a recording contract with Warner Bros. Records.

“I’m just an entertainer, and I use music as a medium for entertaining,” Redbone said. “But I’m not really an entertainer either, because to be an entertainer it implies you have a great desire to want to entertain.”

Redbone announced his retirement from live performances in 2015, citing health problems.

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