Leon Redbone, the acclaimed singer and guitarist who performed jazz, ragtime and Tin Pan Alley-style songs, died Thursday, according to a statement released by his family.
No details about his death were provided.
Redbone’s career got a boost in the early 1970s when Bob Dylan met him at the Mariposa Folk Festival in Ontario, Canada, and praised his performance. Dylan said that if he ever started a label, he would have signed Redbone.
“Leon interests me,” Dylan said in an interview with Rolling Stone in 1974.
“I’ve heard he’s anywhere from 25 to 60, I’ve been [a foot and a half from him] and I can’t tell, but you gotta see him. He does old Jimmie Rodgers, then turns around and does a Robert Johnson.”
Dylan wasn’t the only one who didn’t know Redbone’s real age since the performer never directly answered questions about his origin or age.
The Thursday statement announcing his death explained that “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.”
“I don’t do anything mysterious on purpose. I’m less than forthcoming, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’m mysterious. It just means I’m not inclined to go there,” Redbone was quoted saying in the same statement.
Redbone retired from performing in 2015 because his health had “been a matter of concern for some time” — a spokesman for singer said at the time — and it was “too challenging for him to continue the full range of professional activities.”
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