Ray Sawyer, the eye-patch-wearing member of Doctor Hook and the Medicine Show, died Friday. He was 81.
After losing his right eye in a car wreck, his patch became the visual signature -- reminiscent of Peter Pan's Captain Hook -- that gave the band its name. Forming it in 1969 with lead singer Dennis Locorriere, Billy Francis and George Cummings, the self-professed New Jersey bar band served up a wide range of folk rock and pop.
Their friendship with songwriter Shel Silverstein put the band on the map -- first with their breakthrough hit "Sylvia's Mother" and then with the tongue-in-cheek "Cover of Rolling Stone," which succeeded in its mission, landing the band there in March 1973.
The original group broke up in the early '80s; Locorriere moved to England, where he leads his own Doctor Hook band. Sawyer revived the name in North America with new backing players in the 1990s.
Health problems forced Sawyer's retirement in 2015.
Locorriere tells Rolling Stone, “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."
Ray Sawyer on the many styles of Doctor Hook -- whose hits spanned "Sylvia's Mother" to "Sexy Eyes" and a Top 10 remake of Sam Cooke's "Only 16.":
Ray Sawyer recalls the phone call that led to Doctor Hook recording "Cover of Rolling Stone" -- and art becoming reality when they were the magazine's cover story in March 1973.: