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Lazy Bones
by Leon Redbone
FAST-TRACK: Leon Redbone (1949 to 2019) was a Cypriot-American musician, songwriter and actor. Leon Redbone was born Dickran Gobalian in Nicosia, Cyprus, on August 26th 1949. A child of Armenian ancestry, the family had moved to London, England, by 1961 (and had then emigrated to Toronto, Canada, by 1965). Almost nothing is known about his early years, education and musical development, but it is known that he was able to change his name via the Ontario Change of Name Act. He first appeared on stage in Toronto, Canada, in the early 1970s, and later took work in film and television acting/voice-over roles. After becoming something of a specialist in singing 'jazz' and 'blues', plus some "Tin Pan Alley" classics, he was usually recognizable for sporting his brown Panama hat, dark sunglasses and black tie. A self-taught musician, he played 'by ear', sometimes changing the chords of established tunes at will, neglecting to rehearse properly with backing bands, and not strictly following concert set lists. These concerts made much use of performance art, comedy and skilful instrumentals, and his most favoured "Tin Pan Alley"-era material came from the years 1890 to 1910. His recurring playful prank gags during his performances involved the possible influence of alcohol on him (i.e. playing drunk), and for claiming to have written his works a long time before he was actually born. His first album, "On the Track", was released by 'Warner Brothers Records' in 1975, but he was introduced to a wider public as a semi-regular musical guest on the 'NBC' TV programme "Saturday Night Live" (he appeared twice in the first season). During the 1980s and 1990s, he was a frequent TV guest on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson", and also guested on "A Prairie Home Companion". After having survived a crash in a small plane in West Virginia in February 1979, he then travelled to engagements only by car, and was once quoted as saying "... flying [is now] impossible for me." In total, he released sixteen albums during his singing career - one of his songs, "Seduced", was featured prominently in the 1978 film "The Big Fix". He himself sang "Baby, It's Cold Outside" (with Zooey Deschanel) over the closing credits of the 2003 film "Elf" (he also provided the voice for 'Leon the Snowman' during that movie). He performed "Frosty the Snowman" (with Dr John) on his 1987 album "Christmas Island", and also sang the theme songs for the TV shows "Mr Belvedere" and "Harry and the Hendersons". He retired from all performance in 2015 after a dementia diagnosis. Leon Redbone died from complications of his condition during hospice care in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, on May 30th 2019, aged 69.
Posted: 2nd June 2019
Hundreds of very talented musicians pass away each year, some without much recognition at all. On "Rest In Peace ✚", I aim to give them a fitting 'send-off', with a decent Tribute. I hope you will join me in marking their passing.....
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