Genre-bending American musician Leon Redbone dies at 69

New York (AFP) –


American Musician Leon Redbone, known for reviving pre-World War II musical styles with his own twist, died on Thursday at age 69, according to a statement on his website.

"It is with heavy hearts we announce that early this morning, May 30 2019, Leon Redbone crossed the delta for that beautiful shore at the age of 127," read the statement written in the sly style of the musician known for his mysterious persona.

"He departed our world with his guitar, trusty companion Rover, and a simple tip of his hat," it continued.

Neither the cause nor place of death were specified. The musician retired in 2015 for health reasons.

With a stage presence resembling a mash-up of American guitar maverick Frank Zappa, French jazz legend Marcel Zanini and comedian Groucho Marx, Redbone seemed a creation of the early 20th century Vaudeville style even though his rise to popularity began decades later.

Described in turn as a jazz, folk or blues musician, Redbone recreated the long-lost world of "minstrel shows," musical showcases that traveled the southern United States from the end of the 19th century until the Great Depression began in 1929.

While he kept his past deliberately mysterious, the Toronto Star revealed that he was born Dickran Gobalian in Cyprus before immigrating to Canada in the 1960s, while The New York Times separately put his birthday at August 26, 1949, making him 69 at the time of his death.

Redbone achieved fame with appearances on American television shows like "Saturday Night Live" and Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show" beginning in the 1970s.

Paradoxically, one of his best-known compositions was titled "Please Don?t Talk About Me When I'm Gone." A 2018 documentary about Redbone was given the same title.

The musician released 16 albums, beginning with "On the Track" in 1975 and concluding with "Flying By" in 2014.

"People like to listen to music, I don't know why, I don't," he told AFP in his trademark self-deprecating style. "But as I'm not a dictator, I'm not going to impose my taste on the public."