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Leon Redbone Biography
Leon Redbone born Dickran Gobalian was a legendary singer-songwriter, guitarist, actor and voice actor specializing in jazz, blues, and Tin Pan Alley classics. He was recognized by his Panama hat, dark sunglasses, and black tie.
He first appeared on stage in Toronto, Canada in the early 1970s. Redbone also appeared on film and television in acting and voice-over roles.
His concerts made use of performance, comedy, and skilled instrumentals. Recurrent gags involved the influence of alcohol and claiming to have written works originating well before he was born – Redbone favored material from the Tin Pan Alley era, circa 1890s to 1910. Redbone sang the theme to the 1980s television series Mr. Belvedere and released sixteen albums.
Leon Redbone Career
While living in Canada in the early 1970s, Leon Redbone began performing in public at Toronto area nightclubs and folk music festivals. In 1972, he met Bob Dylan at the Mariposa Folk Festival. Bob Dylan was so impressed by Redbone’s performance that he mentioned it in a Rolling Stone interview, leading that magazine to do a feature article on Redbone a year before he had a recording contract.
The article described Redbone’s performances as “so authentic you can hear the surface noise [of an old 78 rpm].” His first album, On the Track, was released by Warner Bros. Records in 1975.
Leon Redbone PhotoLeon Redbone
Redbone was introduced to a larger public as a semi-regular musical guest on NBC’s Saturday Night Live, appearing twice in the first season. During the 1980s and ’90s, he was a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. He has also been a guest on A Prairie Home Companion.
In an interview printed in the Winter 2017 edition (No. 177) of BING magazine, the publication of the International Club Crosby, clarinetist Dan Levinson recounts working with Redbone. “I toured with Redbone for 12 years. We used to listen to early Crosby while we were on the road. [Redbone’s] taste in music was more eclectic than that of anyone I’ve ever known — it included Emmett Miller, Paganini, Caruso, Gene Austin, Blind Blake, John McCormack, Moran and Mack, Jelly Roll Morton, Cliff Edwards, Ted Lewis, Mustafa the Castrato, Jimmie Rodgers (‘the Singing Brakeman’), the Hungarian singer Imre Laszlo, Mongolian throat singers, W.C. Fields, Laurel and Hardy … and early Bing Crosby.”
Due to Redbone’s reluctance to discuss his past, there was speculation that “Leon Redbone” was an alternative identity for another performer. Two common suggestions in years past were Frank Zappa, and Andy Kaufman, both of whom Redbone outlived.
He usually dressed in attire reminiscent of the Vaudeville era, performing in a Panama hat with a black band and dark sunglasses, often while sitting at attention on a stool, with a white coat and trousers with a black string tie.
On February 12, 1979, Redbone survived the crash of a small plane in Clarksburg, West Virginia. He traveled to engagements exclusively by car, saying, “I carry around many unusual items and devices. They make life difficult for airport security personnel and flying impossible for me.”
On May 19, 2015 on his website, Redbone’s publicist referred to concerns about his health and announced his retirement from performing and recording.
Leon Redbone Age | How Old was Leon Redbone?
Redbone was born on 26 August 1949 in Cyprus. He died on died on 30 May 2019; at the time of his death, Redbone was 69 years old.
Leon Redbone Family
When Redbone was interviewed by Rolling Stone before his debut album, he stated: “My father was Paganini and my mother was Jenny Lind. Wunnerful, wunnerful.”
Leon Redbone Wife | Leon Redbone Children
Redbone was married to Beryl Handler, and together they had two daughters Blake and Ashley and three grandchildren.
Leon Redbone Death | Leon Redbone Cause of Death
Leon Redbone died randomly on May 30, 2019. His death was confirmed by his family in a whimsically worded announcement on his website — an announcement that certainly bore a resemblance to Redbone’s own songwriting and conversational style.
“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 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 Sári Barabás. 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 Lee 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.”
Leon Redbone Champagne Charlie
Champagne Charlie is the third studio album Leon Redbone, released in 1978. It peaked at No. 163 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts.
Leon Redbone Albums
- On the Track (Warner Bros., 1975)
- Double Time (Warner Bros., 1977)
- Champagne Charlie (Warner Bros., 1978)
- From Branch to Branch (Atco, 1981)
- Red to Blue (Sugar Hill, 1985)
- Christmas Island (Blue Thumb, 1987)
- No Regrets (Blue Thumb, 1988)
- Sugar (Rounder, 1990)
- Up a Lazy River (Blue Thumb, 1992)
- Whistling in the Wind (Private Music, 1994)
- Any Time (Rounder, 2001)
- Flying By (2014)
- Long Way From Home: Early Recordings (Third Man, 2016)
- Leon Redbone Live (1985)
- Live! (truncated version of 1985 release) (1994)
- Live & Kickin’ (1999)
- Live – October 26, 1992: The Olympia Theater, Paris, France (2005)
- Long Way from Home (2016)
Leon Redbone Songs | Leon Redbone On The Track | Leon Redbone Greatest Hits
- Shine on Harvest Moon
- My Walking Stick
- Diddy Wa Diddie
- Big Bad Bill
- Sheik of Araby
- Polly Wolly Doodle
- Big Time Woman
- Baby, It’s Cold Outside
- So, Relax
- Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone
- Ain’t Misbehavin’
- Champagne Charlie
- I Ain’t Got Nobody
- Mr. Jelly Roll Baker
- My Blue Heaven
- Desert Blues
- Frosty the Snowman
- Te Na Na
- She’s My Gal
- Mississippi River Blues
- 14th Street Blues
- My Good Gal’s Gone Blues
- Dancin’ on Daddy’s Shoes
- Gotta Shake that Thing
- Christmas Ball Blues
- That Old Familiar Blues
- The Whistling Colonel
- Christmas Island
- At the Chocolate Bon Bon Ball
- She Ain’t Rose