Ray Sawyer (February 1, 1937 – December 31, 2018) was an American singer and vocalist with the 1970s rock band Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show. Though primarily a backing vocalist and occasional percussionist on congas or maracas, he sang lead on their hit song "The Cover of Rolling Stone" and was a recognizable presence in the band owing to the eyepatch and cowboy hat he wore. He was also the uncle of the vocalist of Wild Fire, Zack Sawyer.
|Born||February 1, 1937|
Chickasaw, Alabama, U.S.
|Died||December 31, 2018 (aged 81)|
Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S.
|Instruments||Vocals, percussion, maracas, congas, guitar|
|Years active||1988–2015 (in Dr. Hook featuring Ray Sawyer)|
Sawyer lost his right eye in a 1967 automobile accident. He said the following about his life around the time of his accident: "I must have played all the clubs from Houston to Charleston until I decided I was going insane from too much beans and music, and I gave it up. I saw a John Wayne movie and proceeded to Portland, Oregon, to be a logger complete with plaid shirt, caulk boots, and pike pole. On the way my car slipped on the road and the accident left me with the eye patch I now wear. When I recovered I ran straight back to the beans and music and vowed, 'here I'll stay'."
Sawyer was the lead vocalist on the band's breakthrough hit, "The Cover of the Rolling Stone," as well as many of the Medicine Show's earlier songs. Eventually, by the late 1970s, as the band found commercial success, Sawyer stepped back into a backing vocalist behind Dennis Locorriere, occasionally playing another instrument (for example, on "Better Love Next Time," one of the band's later hits, he can be seen with a prominent bongo part). Sawyer left the band in 1983, allegedly because he was no longer happy with the band's direction.
From 1988 to October 2015, Sawyer toured the nostalgia circuit as "Dr. Hook featuring Ray Sawyer", under license from Locorriere, who tours separately and owns the Dr. Hook trademark. Sawyer retired in 2015 and died after a short illness, aged 81, on December 31, 2018.
- Genzlinger, Neil (January 2, 2019). "Ray Sawyer, 'Cover of Rolling Stone' Singer, Dies at 81". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 3, 2019. Retrieved January 3, 2019.
- Fuqua, C. S. (September 15, 2011). Alabama Musicians: Musical Heritage from the Heart of Dixie. The History Press. pp. 164–. ISBN 9781609491574. Retrieved January 9, 2014.
- ”Ray Sawyer”, The Encyclopedia of Folk, Country and Western Music, St. Martin's Press New York, 1984
- "INTERVIEW: DENNIS LOCORRIERE, DR HOOK – September 2015". October 15, 2015. Archived from the original on February 21, 2017. Retrieved February 28, 2018.
- D'Angelo, Bob. "Dr. Hook singer Ray Sawyer dead at 81". ajc. Archived from the original on January 1, 2019. Retrieved January 2, 2019.