Dr. Hook singer Ray Sawyer — best known for his iconic eye-patch, cowboy hat, and gold tooth — died in his sleep at age 81 on December 31st, according to BBC.com. The Alabama born-Sawyer, who lost his eye in a car crash in 1967, formed Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show in 1969, with the band going on to rack up a string of eight Top 20 hits, starting with 1972’s “Sylvia’s Mother” (#5) and the following year’s “Cover Of The Rolling Stone” (#6) — both of which were written by Shel Silverstein.
The band shortened its name to Dr. Hook in 1975 and continued top score Top 10 hits throughout the decade, including 1976’s “Only Sixteen” (#6), 1978’s “Sharing The Night Together” (#6), 1979’s “When You’re In Love With A Beautiful Woman” (#6), and 1980’s “Sexy Eyes” (#5).
Sawyer split the group in 1981, but later toured under the moniker Dr. Hook featuring Ray Sawyer, before retiring in 2015. Dr. Hook’s co-founding guitarist and vocalist Dennis Locorriere told Rolling Stone, “that though they had not spoken for years ‘it does not erase the fact that we were once close friends and shared an important time in both our lives. Deep condolences go out to his family at what must be a difficult time.”
A while back, Ray Sawyer spoke about the formation of the original Dr. Hook band: “I was born in Mobile, Alabama and I had a car wreck in 1967 and I started wearing the patch. And I got better from the car wreck and went to New York and went to work in this little bar, with me, Billy Francis, and George Cummings — that was the three of us from the original band. And we didn’t have a bass player. Dennis (Locorriere) came in and I asked him could he play bass, and he lied and said ‘yes’ (laughter) — gave him the job and that’s the way it started.”
Photo Courtesy of Capitol Records