Singer-songwriter Kenny Rankin dead at 69

Singer-songwriter Kenny Rankin has passed away from lung cancer at the age of 69.

Perhaps not as well known as those he worked with, Rankin was none the less an influential figure in music. A guitarist, song writer and singer, Rankin worked early in his career with Bob Dylan, until breaking out on his own through appearances on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

Rankin’s albums covered a variety of influences, from pop, jazz and South American beats. Ironically his biggest success came from covers, both of his works, and Rankin covering those of others. Helen Reddy and Georgie Fame both covered “Peaceful” with strong results in 1975 and 1969 respectively. In 1975, Rankin covered the Beatles hits Blackbird and Penny Lane; Paul McCartney felt so highly of the covers that he asked Rankin to represent him at his induction to the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987.

After recording pop albums for many years, Rankin embraced his love of jazz in the 90s, a move that built him a strong following in the jazz community.

Rankin is survived by his three children, and a grandchild.