Sunday, May 26, 2024

Leon Russell Dies at 74, Legendary Rocker, Blues Man, Influenced Elton John Among Others


The great Leon Russell has died at age 74. The amazing rocker, blues man, pianist extraordinaire wrote his own hits like “A Song for You” and “This Masquerade” which were covered by many. He also had his own hits including “Tightrope” and “Delta Lady.” He was a member of Phil Spector’s Wrecking Crew that created the famous Wall of Sound, and influenced Elton John so much that the two made an award winning album called “The Union.” What a shame. This was an Artist. Add his name to the long list of music stars who’ve passed away in 2016.

Watch these videos below. After this incredible career, Russell was a little forgotten. Then Elton John told me he was making an album with Leon, who’d influenced him greatly. Elton told me, “Just listen to Tumbleweed Connection or Honky Chateau”– two of his beloved early albums– “it all comes from Leon.”

Because of Elton, Leon was finally inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I was on the nominating committee that put Russell into the Songwriters Hall of Fame even before that happened. Russell was rediscovered. He made one last album produced by Don Was, called “Life Journey.”

Keep refreshing…

George Harrison and Leon Russell– Concert for Bangla Desh– one of the best recordings ever

Elton John and Leon:

Elton and Leon on The View

Leon was a huge part of Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen. He was a Mad Dog, playing the piano here, his famous hat in place:

Leon talks about Phil Spector’s Wrecking Crew:

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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