Published in May 2019 / Updated in Apr 2021
Legendary Tin Pan Alley-style musician, Leon Redbone, died on Thursday, May 30th, at 69, his family said.
His family confirmed redbone’s tragic death, but the cause of his death wasn’t disclosed.
Redbone, famous for Vaudeville and Tin Pan Alley music, had retired in 2015 due to unspecified health problems. Throughout his eclectic 40-years career, he released 16 full-length albums.
Confirming Redbone’s death, a post on Redbone’s website contained whimsical humor and obvious fiction that the singer was almost certainly prepared in advance for his death.
The website stated:
“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.’”
Ironically, one of Redbone’s famous concert hits was ‘Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.’
The hit incorporates whistling solos that ensured that he’d be talked about in his absence.
The ‘Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone’ title, which dates back to 1930, was adapted from Redbone’s documentary that premiered at festivals in 2018, but it hasn’t yet been released.
Redbone released his first album ‘On The Track’ in 1975, and he became a small screen staple. He appeared twice on the first screen of Saturday Night Live and regular occasions on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
He also sang the theme to the 80s sitcom Mr. Belvedere and the 90s sitcom Harry and the Hendersons.
Redbone also duetted with Zooey Deschanel for a cover of ‘Baby, It’s Cold Outside’ for the end credits of 2003’s Elf.
Born in Cyprus, Redbone was allegedly known as Dickran Gobalian. He later moved to Canada in the 60s, and by the 70s, he was featured in Toronto-based venues.
Redbone was notoriously secretive and rarely spoke out about himself. But when asked in a rare interview why he chose to focus on music from the 20s and 30s, he said:
“It was a more interesting time, a more interesting period in the history of the music development of certain styles of music. Something about it seems to speak to me more than what came after.”
Redbone released his last original album, ‘Flying By,’ in 2014, and he announced his retirement the year after.