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The Passing of Leon Russell

14RUSSELL-OBIT3-master315Recently rock legend Leon Russell passed away at age 74. Though he is indeed a rock legend, many are unaware of his musical accomplishments (until you hear his songs). The coverage of his passing paled in comparison to Prince or David Bowie, though he is no less a music giant. Though the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is a very inconsistent about who it admits, he was clearly worthy and is a member having been inducted in 2011.

As background, Russell recorded 33 albums and more than 400 songs. As a pianist, he played in his early years on albums by the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean. On his first album, Leon Russell, in 1970, musicians included Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and George Harrison.

Russell also produced and played in recording sessions for Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ike & Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones, and He performed at the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 along with Dylan and Eric Clapton.

Noteworthy songs he performed were:

Tight Rope
Roll Away the Stone
Lady Blue

But as a songwriter for others he wrote many famous songs as well:

This Masquerade (George Benson)
Delta Lady (Joe Cocker)
Superstar (Carpenters)
Everybody Loves a Clown and She’s Not My Style (Gary Lewis & the Playboys)

And perhaps his most famous song, A Song for You, performed by Russell and more than 40 other artists.

Unfortunately I never had an opportunity to see him perform live. However I remember his music fondly from the early 70s when I was a DJ at my college radio station, WRSU at Rutgers in New Brunswick, NJ.

He was always in “heavy rotation” during my air shifts. Loved his music. RIP Leon.




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2 Comments

  1. John Most says:

    Bingo! You got it all Lonny. And A Song For You is my favorite. Listen also to a little known favorite/classic for those of us who were in Oklahoma in the 70’s…Home Sweet Oklahoma. It was the anthem for my class of ‘72 in Tulsa.

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