Written by: Alex Green
Ralph Carney, the idiosyncratic saxophonist who played with the likes of everyone from Tom Waits to Elvis Costello, has died.
The Ohio-born musician was 61.
Details are still coming in, but Carney’s death is being attributed to injuries sustained in a traffic collision.
Carney, who took up the saxophone in his early teens, got his start with the Akron band Tin Huey. From there he became a long-time member of Tom Waits’ band and went on to collaborate with Jonathan Richman, Stan Ridgway, the Black Keys, and They Might Be Giants.
He also played with Oranj Symphonette along with other members of Waits’ band, including Matt Brubeck and Joe Gore.
A gifted musician who seemed to have a preternatural inclination for every instrument he touched, Carney also played five-string banjo, violin, harmonica, Turkish clarinet, piccolo, and trumpet.
“There’s nothing Carney can’t do,” SEM’s Matt Sloan wrote after seeing Carney play with the SF-outfit Carneyball Johnson. “He’s the kind of musical virtuoso that you just can’t take your eyes off.”
Carney was the uncle of Black Keys drummer Patrick Carney–the two collaborated on the theme to NetFlix’s “BoJack Horseman.”
The younger Carney offered this tribute to his uncle on Twitter: