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Leon Redbone Biography

Home > Music > R > Redbone, Leon > Biography

Birth Name: Dickran Gobalian
Birth Place: Toronto, Canada
Years Active: 197?-Present
Genres: Vaudevillian, Ragtime, Jazz, Blues

Leon Redbone was born Dickran Gobalian on August 26, 1949 and is a singer and guitarist who specializes in interpretations of early 20th-century jazz music and blues standards. Redbone's first professional performance took place in Toronto, Canada in the mid-1970s, where he cultivated a cult following. To date, Redbone had released fifteen albums and continues to perform live when he came. Known for his live shows, Redbone's performances are a combination of a comedy act with skilled and riveting instrumental music.

Redbone got his start in music performing in and around Toronto nightclubs and folk music festivals. It was during the festival circuit that Redbone met Bob Dylan, who was so impressed by the young musician's talents that he spoke of him in a Rolling Stone Magazine interview shortly after their meeting. The mention from Dylan led the magazine to follow up and do a featured article on Redbone while he was still unsigned. The exposure from the Rolling Stone piece, combined with his growing fan base, and the buzz around his live shows lead to a record deal offer from Warner Bros. Records. Redbone's debut album, “On the Track” arrived in 1975.

Redbone's television debut was on NBC's Saturday Night Live, where he had a reoccurring spot throughout the remainder of the 1970s and through the early 1980s. Redbone was also a frequent guest on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson during the 1980s, which helped his music cross over to mainstream audiences. Redbone has grown more reclusive and eccentric as the years have progressed, however he still writes and records new music and sporadically performs live shows.