In Memory of My Friend, Kenny Rankin

Kenny Rankin died on June 7th. He was 69 years old and died of lung cancer in Los Angeles, where he lived.

I first started listening to Kenny's music when I was in college in 1976. His vocal range, from a falsetto to rich, bluesy tenor was remarkable. I had the good luck to run into him at LA airport a few years back and tell him how much his music meant to me. He offered to perform at any charitable event I might be affiliated with, schedule permitting. Last year, Kenny made good on that promise and did a show at the Stephen Talkhouse on Long Island to benefit the East Hampton Daycare Center.

Kenny played the hell out of the guitar and put on a wonderful show for the relatively small crowd. He never mentioned that he was sick.

When the Beatles were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987, Paul McCartney asked Kenny to accept the award on the group's behalf. Rankin had recorded beautiful and lilting versions of a number of Beatles' songs. Kenny wrote for Peggy Lee, Mel Torme and Helen Reddy in the 60's and 70's. He played guitar on Dylan's "Bringing It All Back Hom e" album in 1965.

Kenny Rankin, the self-described "jazz singer," a great guitarist and vocalist, died last Sunday. Rest in peace, Kenny.