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.”
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: