Leon Redbone was a singer, songwriter, and voice-over actor. He played and sang ragtime music and early 20th century standards. Born on August 26, 1949, in Nicosia, Cyprus, he died on May 30, 2019, at the age of 69 in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Leon Redbone fiercely protected his privacy and personal life. We do know that he was married and had two daughters with his manager-wife, Beryl Handler. Further information about his albums, CDs, and performances can be found online.
This performer was unique in his love of ragtime music.
Rarely seen without his black sunglasses, string tie, and Panama hat, Leon Redbone was a throwback to an earlier, more playful period. His musical preferences were carefully cultivated from vaudeville, especially the years between the 1880s and 1930s. This ragtime music spoke to him and he found himself compelled to offer his interpretation of these wonderful songs.
Leon Redbone’s family announced his passing on Facebook. It appears they also had a creative flair and announced it in a way that would have brought a smile to his face.
My love affair with Leon Redbone began in 1990 when I scored a copy of his 1977 CD, “Double Time”. Included were songs like Diddy Wah Diddy, Shine on Harvest Moon, and Nobody’s Sweetheart. Soon, my family and I also had a love of ragtime music. As a matter of fact, I set up a Leon Redbone station when I first started using Pandora – way back in the day.
Now’s a great time to sample his music.
When I recently Googled “Leon Redbone and Ragtime Music” the first page offered over 50 videos. Some have become classics, while others are known mostly to Redbone aficionados.
Many dancers have a feel for the bygone era and its ragtime music. If you’re one of them, you’ll have a hard time keeping still when you hear his songs. In fact, you can easily do a number of different dances to them. For instance, Foxtrot (slow and fast), Peabody, Lindy Hop, East Coast Swing, and Balboa.
For more on Balboa, please read this Dance Safari post, “Balboa Basics: I’m Gonna Learn a New Dance“.
Irving Berlin wrote this song, “My Walking Stick” in 1938. I think it sort of has a Tango feel, don’t you?
Leon Redbone was a unique personality who’s gravely baritone spoke to generations. He’ll be missed. Don’t forget to check out the links – it’s cool stuff!
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