Jazz stylist, composer, singer and acoustic guitarist Kenny Rankin lost his life to lung cancer in Los Angeles on June 7, 2009. He was 69 years old. Mr. Rankin was particularly partial to the Beatles. He recorded a number of their songs, including “Blackbird,” “With a Little Help From My Friends” and “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” When John Lennon and Paul McCartney were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987, Mr. McCartney asked Mr. Rankin to represent them at the induction ceremony. Johnny Carson presented Rankin on “The Tonight Show” more than 20 times.
“Above all, I’m a jazz singer who likes to mess with the melody,” he told The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 1997. “I sing songs that touch my heart, the songs I would like to sing to someone in front of a roaring fire on a comfy couch draped in flowers.”
His soft, wispy, laid-back tenor voice never seemed to show signs of aging. He had a distinctive habit of rushing the melody and straying from the printed music as composed.