Leon Redbone, the anachronistic blues singer, has died. Depending on whether you believe his family’s press release or Entertainment Weekly, he was either 127 or 69 at the time of his passing. Redbone purposefully obfuscated his personal biography, trying his darndest to seem like a figure stuck out of time. Redbone was born in Cyprus and changed his name from Dickran Gobalian to Leon Redbone when he immigrated to Canada. His music revived Tin Pan Alley jams like “Please Don’t Talk About Me When I’m Gone.” Bob Dylan was a fan. Redbone also sang the theme songs to Harry and the Hendersons and Mr. Belvedere. Redbone was a fixture of ’70s late-night TV, performing sets for Johnny Carson and on Saturday Night Live. In 2003, he voiced Leon the Snowman in Elf and sang a duet of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” with Zooey Deschanel on the soundtrack.
The statement on his official website posits that Redbone is currently having a ball in the afterlife: “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 singalong 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.’”