This November will mark 40 years since Elton John and Leon Russell performed together at the Fillmore East in New York on November 20, 1970. This was right after Elton’s landmark live album, “11-17-70.” (Thanks to a couple of readers who pointed this out.)
Soon the old friends will make a new CD together, if Russell’s health permits. I’m told Elton, collaborator Bernie Taupin, and Russell have composed about a dozen or so new tracks together. They’re planning on going into the studio together shortly to lay them down. T-Bone Burnett, on a roll right now with the score and soundtrack to “Crazy Heart” will be the producer.
The only hitch: Russell has been in the hospital for some time suffering from brain fluid leak. He’s had brain surgery, and doctors are now considering another procedure to relieve the pressure in his head.
But the prognosis is good, and Elton is looking forward to doing the project. He told me recently that Russell had been a huge influence on him’when he’was starting out. You can certainly hear’it in Elton’s early style of singing, and on tracks like “Honky Cat,” “Take’Me to the Pilot,” “Border Song,” and the remarkable “Tumbleweed Connection” album.
So here’s a fervent Get Well to Leon Russell for a fast recovery, and release of the new album before the next Grammy deadline. This is one recording we really need, and soon!