Leon Redbone, the singer and guitarist known for stylish revivals of classic American vaudeville and blues, has died at 69. Redbone, born in Cyprus as Dickran Gobalian, began performing in the 1960s in Canada. He retired due to ill health in 2015.
Redbone was famed for biographical opaqueness and personal idiosyncracy. I got a taste of that first-hand when I interviewed him at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Toronto in the 1970s. He agreed to the interview provided that I not take notes or record the conversation. Subsequently, passersby found me scribbling feverishly as I sat under a tree.
“A statement on Redbone’s website confirmed his death, though it did so with a sweet bit of humor and joking that he was actually 127 years old,” Jon Blistein writes in Rolling Stone:
Leon Redbone, Cult Singer Who Helped Revive Ragtime, Dead at 69