Posts Tagged ‘obituary’

Saturday Matinee – Leon Redbone (1892-2019)

Saturday, 1 June 2019

“Why don’t they play pretty music any more?”

Leon Redbone was an iconic performer who reinvigorated the music of the late 19th to early 20th century, including blues, ragtime, dixieland jazz and country. That he pulled it off in the mid 1970s is an interesting commentary of the state of music of the time (mainstream rock was sucking donkeys). You couldn’t get more retro than Leon Redbone at that time, and he stepped right into the mix.

Rolling Stone described his repertoire as “so authentic you can hear the surface noise of an old 78 rpm.” During a 1974 interview (prior to release of any album) they asked where he first played in public. Redbone responded, “In a pool hall, but I wasn’t playing guitar, you see. I was playing pool.” Apparently he was pretty good at it.

I learned of the song “Ain’t Misbehavin” via some sheet music my late grampa had, and I liked the tune. I’d never heard of Fats Waller before I heard Leon Redbone’s version.

Then I heard Redbone’s over-the-top absurd version of The Sheik of Araby, a cover of this (1937) which was a cover of this (1922). I became a fan.

In the early ’80s I saw Mr. Redbone perform at The Golden Bear (a small but famous venue with no bad seats). His props were a rattan chair, a side table with a lamp, and his guitar. He was in the middle of a song when he saw the flash of a Kodak Instamatic camera. With lightning speed, he stopped, grabbed a Polaroid Swinger and took a photo of the photographer, then sat quietly humming until the image appeared. He held it up to view.

“Ahhh. Not a bad likeness.”

Then he resumed the song exactly where he left off.

I wasn’t aware of this until today, but there is a documentary on Leon Redbone. Here’s the trailer:

“He was always mysterious, he was always coming and going. It was almost like he was there one second and he’d be gone the next… and you never knew where he’d gone or why or how he’d even left, but suddenly he wasn’t there anymore.” – Jane Harbury, Publicist.

Here’s a link to the full documentary if you’re interested. It’s only 16 minutes, but it’s worth it.

Leon Redbone, you were a breath of fresh air into the stagnant late 70s music scene. May You Rest In Peace.

[Related posts here.]

Ronald Lee Ermey (1944-2018) Buried With Honors.

Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Don’t know who Ronald Lee Ermey was? Here’s a hint. Here’s another.


R.I.P. Senator John McCain 1936-2018

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Regardless of his politics, some of which I’ve disagreed with, John McCain forever earned my respect for his conduct during his 5+ years incarceration as a POW in North Vietnam.

[Related post here.]

Saturday Matinee – R.I.P. B.B. King (1925-2015)

Saturday, 16 May 2015

BB King

The Blues had fallen out of favor in the U.S. recording market in the 1960s, as it was considered retro and passé. Many talented blues musicians from the ’40s and ’50s were left with few options until British rock bands took notice and revived the genre by covering various classic American blues songs, often without credit, which fomented a resurgence of interest in the original recordings. The British were largely responsible for restarting the careers of such notables as Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf. Even early blues-based rock and rollers Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Bo Diddley got career boosts, and all were more popular in England than they were in the United States at that time.

Riley B. “Blues Boy” King was one of the greatest bluesmen of all time, known for his roaring vocals and understated guitar solos. He paid the cost to be the boss, and this BBC documentary from 1972 is amazing. There’s no posing, no strutting or preening, just straight talk about influences and style in a refreshingly honest manner. There’s no point in posting other B.B. King videos here because this one covers it all.

R.I.P. Mr. King. That’s one hell of a legacy you left us.

RIP Jane Nebel Henson 1934 – 2013

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Jane Nebel Henson 1934-2013

Jane Nebel Henson passed away at the age of 78 on 2 April 2013. Although her late husband is more well known, Jane Henson was an important contributor. Married in 1959, she and Jim Henson reinvented the ancient art of puppetry and created a huge entertainment industry: The Muppets.


[Jane] Nebel and [Jim] Henson met in a puppetry course at the University of Maryland, College Park, where they were both undergraduates. At the time, Nebel was a senior majoring in art education and Henson was a freshman studying to become a commercial artist. Nebel later became Henson’s puppeteering partner on the television show Sam and Friends, and the two eventually married. [via]

Prior to the creation of Sesame Street, the Hensons produced awesome entertainment for advertisers and television shows. Here are some arbitrary pre-Sesame Street selections.

Talented people are often under-appreciated until they’re gone, especially those who leave such a great legacy. RIP Jane.


Tweety Bird Dead at 67

Wednesday, 15 April 2009


Palm Springs, California (Strutts News Services) – Long admired yet not forgotten, Robert “Tweety Bird” Balderstien passed away at the age of 67 at his ranch home in Palm Desert, Southern California.

Robert Svenson Balderstien, hatched in 1942 in Suffolk, Massachusetts, by immigrant parents, adapted to the stage early, despite his hydrocephelitic condition. Contrary to popular belief, his medical condition did not cause his speech impediment, and for years he battled the stereotype.

Balderstien also rejected the contention that he was female, and fought the resulting insinuations and innuendos all his life before retiring in seclusion in Palm Desert, California.

sylvester-tweety“I never said, ‘I tawt I taw a puddy tat.’  I have perfect enunciation, but Warner Brothers chose to overdub my voice, and I was stuck with it ever since.”

Longtime friend and companion, Sylvester The Cat, also of Palm Desert, gave a touching eulogy that ended with, “Yeah.  I’ll mith him the motht. He alwayth thought he thaw me, and motht timeth he motht thertainly did.”

[Image from here.  Related obituary here.]


Saturday, 25 August 2007


Ft. Lauderdale, FL – (Strutts News Services)
Beloved cartoon character “Ziggy” succumbed to a heat stroke on Thursday, when record temperatures caused an overload in the local power grid, shutting down the air conditioning in Mr. Z’s beach front condo. He was found unconscious and unresponsive by Lt. Commander Lannie Foosers of the Ft. Lauderdale Health and Rescue Division, and was pronounced dead on arrival at Holy Cross Hospital.

“Ziggy was a good guy, a guy you could trust,” sobbed neighbor and close friend, Ms. Janessa Vapors. “He wouldn’t not do nothin’ to not harm a flea, and now he’s gone. He’d trip over my sprinkler hose and get soaked at least once a week.”

“He always looked kinda waxy,” commented Mr. Bob Bieber, Ziggy’s groundskeeper. “He never looked like he had pants on, but his dog was okay.”

From Toonopedia: “His supporting cast includes a dog, Fuzz, whose main function is to echo and amplify Ziggy’s actions; a cat, Sid, who is afraid of mice; a parrot, Josh, who seldom has anything encouraging to say; a duck, Wack; and a fish, Goldie. These are augmented by an endless stream of auto mechanics, department store clerks, fortune tellers, psychoanalists, waitresses, etc., none of whom do much to brighten his life. He does not have a girlfriend.”


(Photo: Ziggy and Fuzz in happier days)

Rest in Peace, Zigman. We’ll miss you.

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