Dr. Hook singer Ray Sawyer dead at 81

Credit: Gijsbert Hanekroot

Credit: Gijsbert Hanekroot

Ray Sawyer, the eyepatch-wearing singer of Dr. Hook & the Medicine who sang lead vocals for the band's quirky 1972 hit, "The Cover of the Rolling Stone," died Dec. 28, a band spokesman confirmed to Rolling Stone. He was 81.

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The singer's death was originally reported by Page Six, which said Sawyer died in Daytona Beach, Florida, after a brief illness.

While Sawyer was not the band’s lead singer, he took the vocals for the tongue-in-cheek plea for exposure on the cover of rock ’n’ roll’s premier magazine.

With his eyepatch -- he lost his right eye in a car accident two years before the band formed in 1969 -- and cowboy hat, Sawyer took the band up the charts as he sang about beauty and he sang about truth -- at $10,000 a show.

The band did make the cover of Rolling Stone -- in caricature -- in March 1973, the BBC reported.

Sawyer, who was born in Chickasaw, Alabama, in 1937, was a co-founder of the band and performed with them until 1983, when he left to pursue a solo career, Rolling Stone reported.

Dennis Locorriere, who co-founded the band with Sawyer, Billy Francis and George Cummings, said in a statement to Rolling Stone that, “Although I hadn’t been in contact with Ray for many, many 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.”

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