Kenny Rankin

Real Name:
Kenneth Joseph Rankin
Profile:
Born February 10, 1940 in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA.
Died June 07, 2009 in Los Angeles, California, USA.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist.

His songs were recorded by Helen Reddy, Peggy Lee and Mel Tormé. Rankin never formally studied music but began his recording career as a teenager with some singles for Decca (2). He also recorded for Mercury, Atlantic, Sly Dog Records and several other labels.

High class songwriter…

In a remarkable recording career that spans three and a half decades, Kenny Rankin has established an impressive set of creative credentials, as an insightful songwriter, a distinctive guitarist and, above all, a world-class singer possessing an uncanny ability to cut straight to a song’s emotional heart.

It’s the latter aspect of Rankin’s multifaceted talent that’s spotlighted on his Verve recording, “A Song for You” on which the veteran stylist applies his singular interpretive skills to an artfully assembled set of songs drawn from a variety of sources, with sublimely sympathetic instrumental support from some of music’s most respected players.

While his supple, pristine tenor has earned him status as a singer’s singer, Rankin’s songwriting talents have been widely recognized by his peers. For example, his “In the Name of Love” inspired a memorable version by Peggy Lee, while his “Haven’t We Met” has been cut by a number of jazz and pop artists including Carmen McRae and Mel Torme. Other Rankin compositions have been covered by a diverse assortment of artists.

Growing up in the multicultural hotbed of New York’s Washington Heights neighborhood, he absorbed a broad array of musical influences, from AfroCuban to Top 40 to Jazz to Brazilian. But he traces his emergence as a performer to a specific childhood epiphany. “I was in the fourth grade and sang ‘O Holy Night’ in a Christmas play,” he recalls. “My teacher, Miss Isabel Pringle, came over to me and patted me on the head and said ‘Kenneth, that was lovely.’ She set me on the path in music that I find myself on today.”

As a teenager, the budding artist signed with Decca Records and released a handful of singles. A few years later, he signed with Columbia Records, and found himself playing guitar on Bob Dylan’s landmark 1965 album Bringing It All Back Home. Not long after, he performed on The Tonight Show, whose host Johnny Carson became such a fan that Kenny was ultimately invited to appear on the show more than 20 times. Carson even contributed liner notes to Rankin’s 1967 debut LP Mind Dusters, which introduced his much-covered pop standard “Peaceful.” That album’s mix of original tunes and outside material would continue to yield rewarding results on such subsequent releases as Family, Like a Seed, and Inside.

Rankin’s 1975 album Silver Morning featured a popular reworking of The Beatles’ “Blackbird” that so impressed Paul McCartney that he asked Rankin to represent himself and John Lennon when they were inducted into the Songwriters Hall Of Fame. 1976’s much-acclaimed The Kenny Rankin Album was recorded live in the studio, and teamed the singer with a 60-piece orchestra arranged and conducted by the legendary Don Costa to create what many now consider the first contemporary “torch” album; Rankin and Costa continued their collaboration on 1980’s After the Roses.

Through much of the 1980s, Rankin largely concentrated on the live stage, increasingly emphasizing pop and jazz standards using jazz accompaniment. He ended a long break from recording in 1995 with a pair of albums: Professional Dreamer, a collection of standards, and the Brazilian-flavored Here In My Heart, both for the Private Music label.

However one may attempt to pigeonhole Kenny Rankin-as jazz vocalist, pop artist or introspective singer/songwriter-the openhearted emotional forthrightness of his singing renders such classifications irrelevant. “My interpretation of the songs is purely emotional,” he explains. “We’ve all experienced disappointment and heartache, and that’s what I draw upon. When I sing ‘A Song for You’ and ‘Where Do You Start?’ or ‘She Was Too Good to Me,’ I’m really hurting for the people in the song. I never change lyrics, because when I select a song it’s usually because of how the lyric impacts me. I’ve been accused of straying from the melody, but when I sing I’m feeling, not thinking.”

“When I started, I was very young and felt like I was the center of the universe. But over the years I’ve come to understand that it’s not about me, it’s about the work, and about having the opportunity to do good work. If you do anything for any length of time, it’s inevitable that you’re gonna have ups and downs.

You make mistakes, but you learn from that. “I just feel privileged that I’ve been allowed to continue in my craft, and I’ve been encouraged by all the positive feedback I’ve gotten from people over the years,” he concludes. “When someone tells you a song changed their life, or inspired them to look at things in a slightly different way, well, you can’t ask for a better reward than that.”

Miss Pringle would be proud.

Rankin died in Los Angeles from lung cancer on June 7, 2009.
Sites:
Variations:

Albums

20145 SMCL Kenny Rankin - Mind-Dusters album art Kenny Rankin Mind-Dusters (Album) Mercury, Mercury 20145 SMCL US 1967 Sell This Version
SR 61240 Kenny Rankin - Family album art Kenny Rankin Family (Album) Mercury SR 61240 US 1969 Sell This Version
LD 1003 Kenny Rankin - Like A Seed album art Kenny Rankin Like A Seed (Album) Little David Records LD 1003 US 1972 Sell This Version
LDA M8L 3000 Kenny Rankin - Silver Morning album art Kenny Rankin Silver Morning (Album) Little David Records LDA M8L 3000 US 1974 Sell This Version
LD 1009 Kenny Rankin - Inside album art Kenny Rankin Inside (Album) Little David Records LD 1009 Australia 1975 Sell This Version
5-1976 Kenny Rankin - Crawdaddy Radio Revue album art Franklyn Ajaye / Kenny Rankin Franklyn Ajaye / Kenny Rankin - Crawdaddy Radio Revue(LP, S/Sided, Transcription) Crawdaddy 5-1976 US 1976 Sell This Version
P-10378L Kenny Rankin - The Kenny Rankin Album album art Kenny Rankin The Kenny Rankin Album (Album) Little David Records P-10378L Philippines 1977 Sell This Version
P-10867A Kenny Rankin - After The Roses album art Kenny Rankin After The Roses (Album) Atlantic P-10867A Japan 1980 Sell This Version
RKRS - 49 Kenny Rankin - The Robert Klein Radio Show album art Robert Klein Featuring The Knack (3), Gary Wright Live Performance By Kenny Rankin Robert Klein Featuring The Knack (3), Gary Wright Live Performance By Kenny Rankin - The Robert Klein Radio Show(LP, Transcription + LP, S/Sided, Transcription) Froben Production RKRS - 49 US 1981 Sell This Version
CYPD 905 Kenny Rankin - Hiding In Myself album art Kenny Rankin Hiding In Myself (Album) Cypress Records CYPD 905 Canada 1988 Sell This Version
JC63 Kenny Rankin - Because Of You album art Kenny Rankin Because Of You (Album) Chesky Records, Chesky Records JC63 US 1991 Sell This Version
01005-82124-2 Kenny Rankin - Professional Dreamer album art Kenny Rankin Professional Dreamer (Album) Private Music 01005-82124-2 US 1995 Sell This Version
0100582148-2 Kenny Rankin - Here In My Heart album art Kenny Rankin Here In My Heart (Album) Private Music 0100582148-2 US 1997 Sell This Version
RMP-0001 Kenny Rankin - A Christmas Album album art Kenny Rankin A Christmas Album Rankin Music Productions. Inc. RMP-0001 Philippines 1999 Sell This Version
6344047403-2 Kenny Rankin - The Bottom Line Encore Collection album art Kenny Rankin The Bottom Line Encore Collection (Album) The Bottom Line 6344047403-2 US 1999 Sell This Version
ID9922RK Kenny Rankin - Haven't We Met? album art Kenny Rankin Haven't We Met?(CD, Album) Image Entertainment ID9922RK US 2001 Sell This Version
314 589 540-2 Kenny Rankin - A Song For You album art Kenny Rankin A Song For You (Album) Verve Records 314 589 540-2 US 2002 Sell This Version

Singles & EPs

9-30485 Kenny Rankin - Saturday After The Game / I'll Be Waitin'  album art Kenny Rankin Saturday After The Game / I'll Be Waitin' (Single) Decca 9-30485 Canada 1957 Sell This Version
9-30954 Kenny Rankin - I Cry By Night / Have Pity Miss Kitty album art Kenny Rankin I Cry By Night / Have Pity Miss Kitty (Single) Fonit 9-30954 US 1959 Sell This Version
9-31054 Kenny Rankin - What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For album art Kenny Rankin What Do You Want To Make Those Eyes At Me For Decca 9-31054 Canada 1960 Sell This Version
9-30852 Kenny Rankin - Cindy Loo (My Cinderella) / Catch Love album art Kenny Rankin Cindy Loo (My Cinderella) / Catch Love Decca 9-30852 US 1960 Sell This Version
9-31162 Kenny Rankin With Orchestra Directed By Jack Pleis* Kenny Rankin With Orchestra Directed By Jack Pleis* - Sure As You're Born / Teasin' Heart(7", Promo) Decca 9-31162 US 1960 Sell This Version
45-05845 Kenny Rankin - Sure As You're Born / Teasin' Heart album art Kenny Rankin With Orchestra Directed By Jack Pleis* Kenny Rankin With Orchestra Directed By Jack Pleis* - Sure As You're Born / Teasin' Heart(7") Brunswick 45-05845 UK 1960 Sell This Version
9-31124 Kenny Rankin - Casey Jones/It Started In Naples album art Kenny Rankin Casey Jones/It Started In Naples(7", Promo) Decca 9-31124 US 1960 Sell This Version
45-10268 Kenny Rankin - Go Home Little Girl / Funny, That's Love album art Ken Rankin* Go Home Little Girl / Funny, That's Love(7") ABC-Paramount 45-10268 US 1961 Sell This Version

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August 31, 2017
Where's his Christmas album? I think it was released in the '90s...

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