Sha Na Na lost one of its iconic members as saxophonist, Lennie Baker, died at the age of 69 from an undisclosed serious infection. The group gained national acclaim in 1969 when they played the Woodstock Festival; Baker would join the group a year later. His most notable contribution was singing vocals on ‘Blue Moon’, featured in the musical Grease. Baker and the rest of Sha Na Na were featured in the 1978 film version, where they played a fictional band named Johnny Casino and the Gamblers. The group extended their reach to television as well, with a show that aired from 1977 to 1981. After 30 years as a member of Sha Na Na, Baker left the group in 2000 and performed with a local group called The Spellbinders.
Prior to his death, Baker performed ‘Blue Moon’ in 2014 at his alma mater’s Whitman-Hanson High School production of Grease in 2014. It was a fitting appearance, particularly considering his deep roots in the Massachusetts area. Baker also attended Northeastern University and was a member of the Phi Kappa Tau fraternity.
Baker’s nephew wrote in his obituary, “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.” Although he was never married, Baker was very close to his brothers and their children. His legacy will live on not only through his contributions to rock and roll, but in the memories of those who knew him personally.