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passings


RAY SAWYER of Dr. Hook


Ray Sawyer, the Dr. Hook & The Medicine


Show member who sang the 1973 Shel Silver- stein-penned hit “The Cover of ‘Rolling Stone,'” has died at the age of 81. Ray passed away on De- cember 31, 2018 in Daytona Beach, Florida fol- lowing a brief illness. Alabama-born Sawyer co- founded the


band with Dennis Locorriere, Billy Francis and George Cummings and was a member of Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show from 1969 to 1981. A few years before the band’s formation, Sawyer lost his right eye in a car accident; Sawyer’s eye- patch brought comparisons to the Peter Pan Vil- lain Captain Hook, inspiring the name Dr. Hook. Ray was a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame.


The band’s initial hits came from the pen


of songwriter/cartoonist/author Shel Silverstein, including “Sylvia’s Mother” and “Cover of the Rolling Stone.” During the ‘80s. the band moved away from their comedic songs into a more com- mercial sound, scoring hits with “When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman,” “Only Sixteen,” and “Sexy Eyes,” among others. Ray is survived by his wife Linda and son


Cayse, who joined his dad’s band as his drummer in the later years. On a personal note, I was a huge fan of the


band during the early to mid-70’s. Their “drunk and high” act was part Cheech and Chong and part country rock. The Belly Up album came with a free 45 rpm record of Ray and partner Dennis in a radio station interviewing themselves. It was hilarious, and just thinking of it today makes me laugh out loud. I didn’t see the band live until 1982 when they played a big club in Spartanburg, SC. I was blown away. Flash forward to 2001, I owned a magazine called GRITZ and was invited to attend a 3-day festival called the Whitehorse Mountain Music Festival near Seattle, Washing- ton. Ray’s version of Dr. Hook was on the bill,


and turned in a great afternoon set. I had the op- portunity that weekend to meet Sam Andrew of Big Brother & the Holding Company, Pat Be- natar, Goose Creek Symphony, 38 Special, Dan Hagerty, Robbie Kenevil, and many others, in- cluding Ray, who I enjoyed a long lunch with backstage along with Charlie Gearheart from Goose Creek. Ray was an open book during our conversation, and to this day I regret that I didn’t record it, but the truth is, I had not planned on an interview. Ray has a permanent spot among my rock


and roll heroes and always will. Witty, funny, a great singer, and a genuinely nice guy. It is truly the end of an era. “Hey Ray, hey sugar, tell ‘em who we are…” Oh, I know who y’all are. You’re the band that made the cover of Rolling Stone magazine. Take that, corporate! •


-Michael Buffalo Smith


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