Lennie Baker, Sha Na Na Saxophonist, Dead at 69

Longtime member sang band's hit cover of "Blue Moon" for 'Grease' soundtrack

By
Sha
Longtime Sha Na Na member Lennie Baker (left, with saxophone) has died at the age of 69 Michael Ochs Archives

Leonard "Lennie" Baker, longtime saxophonist for the doo-wop rock group Sha Na Na and the singer on the band's hit cover of "Blue Moon," died Wednesday in Weymouth, Massachusetts. He was 69. Baker's nephew David confirmed the saxophonist's death to the New York Times, adding that Baker recently developed a serious infection before he "passed way peacefully" at an area hospital.

"Lennie was a people person. He had many friends and truly enjoyed time spent with all of them. His generosity was abundant. He was always willing to share all he had with friends and family," David Baker wrote in the obituary to his uncle.

Baker spent 30 years as Sha Na Na's saxophonist and singer after joining the group in 1970, one year after the band's noteworthy performance at the Woodstock Festival. Baker and Sha Na Na appeared in the 1978 big screen adaptation of Grease as the fictional band Johnny Casino and the Gamblers; the saxophonist sang lead vocals on the band's hit cover of "Blue Moon," which featured on the film's soundtrack. Baker was also a member during the group's syndicated Sha Na Na series, which ran from 1977 to 1981.

Prior to Sha Na Na, Baker played saxophone in the group Danny and the Juniors. Baker retired from Sha Na Na in 2000 but remained musically active, performing with local band the Spellbinders.

Baker's death comes five months after founding Sha Na Na member and singer Dennis Greene died at the age of 66.

x