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Leon Russell

The ultimate rock & roll session man, Leon Russell's long and storied career includes collaborations with a virtual who's-who of music icons spanning from Jerry Lee Lewis to Phil Spector to the Rolling Stones. A similar eclecticism and scope also surfaced in his solo work, which couched his charmingly gravelly voice in a rustic yet rich swamp pop fusion of country, blues, and gospel. Born Claude Russell Bridges on April 2, 1942, in Lawton, Oklahoma, he began studying classical piano at age three, a decade later adopting the trumpet and forming his first band. At 14, Russell lied about his age to land a gig at a Tulsa nightclub, playing behind Ronnie Hawkins & the Hawks before touring in support of Jerry Lee Lewis. Two years later, he settled in Los Angeles, studying guitar under the legendary James Burton and appearing on sessions with Dorsey Burnette and Glen Campbell. As a member of Spector's renowned studio group, Russell played on many of the finest pop singles of the '60s, also arranging classics like Ike & Tina Turner's monumental "River Deep, Mountain High"; other hits bearing his input include the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man," Gary Lewis & the Playboys' "This Diamond Ring," and Herb Alpert's "A Taste of Honey."

In 1967, Russell built his own recording studio, teaming with guitarist Marc Benno to record the acclaimed Look Inside the Asylum Choir LP. While touring with Delaney & Bonnie, he scored his first songwriting hit with Joe Cocker's reading of "Delta Lady," and in 1970, upon founding his own Shelter Records imprint, he also organized Cocker's legendary Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour. After the subsequent tour film earned Russell his first real mainstream attention, he issued a self-titled solo LP, and in 1971 appeared at George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh following sessions for B.B. King, Eric Clapton, and Bob Dylan. After touring with the Rolling Stones, Russell increasingly focused on his solo career, reaching the number two spot with 1972's Carney and scoring his first pop hit with the single "Tight Rope." While the success of 1973's three-LP set Leon Live further established his reputation as a top concert draw, response to the country-inspired studio effort Hank Wilson's Back was considerably more lukewarm, as was the reception afforded to 1974's Stop All That Jazz. 1975's Will O' the Wisp, however, restored his commercial luster, thanks in large part to the lovely single "Lady Blue."

In June of 1975, Russell married singer Mary McCreary; the following year the couple collaborated on The Wedding Album, issued through his newly formed Paradise Records label. Also in 1976, the Russell-penned "This Masquerade" earned a Grammy Award for singer George Benson. Russell and McCreary reunited for 1977's Make Love to the Music, and upon completing the solo Americana, Russell teamed with Willie Nelson for 1979's Willie & Leon. He then spent the next two years touring with his bluegrass band, the New Grass Revival, issuing a live LP in 1981; although Paradise shut down later that year, the label was reactivated for 1984's Hank Wilson, Vol. 2 and Solid State. Russell spent the remainder of the decade largely outside of music and did not resurface until issuing the Bruce Hornsby-produced Anything Can Happen in 1992. The album appeared to little fanfare, however, and another long period of relative inactivity followed prior to the 1998 release of Hank Wilson, Vol. 3: Legend in My Time. Face in the Crowd appeared a year later. Moving into the new century, Russell issued Moonlight & Love Songs, an album of cover songs, in 2002, followed by Angel in Disguise five years later in 2007. A trio of releases, Almost Piano, Bad Country, and In Your Dreams appeared in 2008.

Russell's years in the wilderness ended in 2010 when long-time admirer Elton John contacted the pianist about recording a duet album. Produced by T-Bone Burnett, the 2010 album The Union was greeted by strong reviews and sales, reviving Russell's career in a single stroke. After playing a joint tour with John, Russell returned to the road on his own and eventually got around to recording a solo comeback called Life Journey, which appeared in April 2014. ~ Jason Ankeny
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Life Journey

1. Come On In My Kitchen

2. Big Lips

3. Georgia On My Mind

4. That Lucky Old Sun

5. Fever

6. Think Of Me

7. I Got It Bad And That AinEt Good

8. I'm Afraid The Masquerade Is Over

9. I Really Miss You

10. New York State Of Mind

11. Fool's Paradise

12. Down In Dixieland

x

Track List: Legend In My Time

1. Sixteen Tons

2. Night Life

3. Act Naturally

4. Sweet Dreams

5. Daddy Sang Bass

6. He Stopped Loving Her Today

8. Funny How Time Slips Away

9. Okie From Muskogee

10. Crazy

11. Love's Gonna Live Here

12. He'll Have To Go

13. Legend In My Time

x

Track List: Retrospective

1. A Song For You

2. A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall

3. The Ballad Of Mad Dogs And Englishmen

4. Delta Lady

5. Roll Away The Stone

6. Tightrope

7. Out In The Woods

8. Shootout On The Plantation

9. Stranger In A Strange Land

10. Hummingbird

11. Lady Blue

12. This Masquerade

13. Back To The Island

14. Magic Mirror

15. Crystal Closet Queen

16. Bluebird

17. Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms

18. Queen Of The Roller Derby (live)

x

Track List: Gimme Shelter! The Best Of Leon Russell

Disc 1

5. A Song For You

6. Dixie Lullaby

7. Hummingbird

8. Delta Lady

9. Pisces Apple Lady

11. Stranger In A Strange Land

12. Crystal Closet Queen

16. Tight Rope

17. Me & Baby Jane

18. Manhattan Island Serenade

19. Magic Mirror

20. This Masquerade

Disc 2

1. Roll Away The Stone

2. Prince Of Peace

3. Sweet Emily

4. Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms

7. If I Were A Carpenter

9. Time For Love

10. Will O' The Wisp

11. Little Hideaway

12. Back To The Island

13. Bluebird

14. Lady Blue

16. Wild Horses

x

Track List: Will O' The Wisp

1. Will O' The Wisp

2. Little Hideaway

3. Make You Feel Good

4. Can't Get Over Losing You

5. My Father's Shoes

6. Stay Away From Sad Songs

7. Back To The Island

8. Down On Deep River

9. Bluebird

10. Laying Right Here In Heaven

11. Lady Blue

x

Track List: Leon Live

Disc 1

1. Mighty Quinn Medley: I'll Take You There/Idol With The Golden Head/I Serve A Living Savior/The Mighty Quinn (Live)

2. Shoot Out At The Plantation (Live)

3. Dixie Lullaby (Live)

4. Queen Of The Roller Derby (Live)

5. Roll Away The Stone (Live)

6. It's Been A Long Time Baby (Live)

7. Great Day (Live)

8. Alcatraz (Live)

9. Crystal Closet Queen (Live)

10. Prince Of Peace (Live)

11. Sweet Emily (Live)

12. Stranger In A Strange Land (Live)

Disc 2

1. Out In The Woods (Live)

2. Some Day (Live)

3. Sweeping Through The City (Live)

4. Jumping Jack Flash/Youngblood Medley (Live)

5. Of Thee I Sing/Yes I Am Medley (Live)

6. Delta Lady (Live)

7. It's All Over Now Baby Blue (Live)

x

Track List: Hank Wilson's Back!

1. Roll In My Sweet Baby's Arms

2. She Thinks I Still Care

3. I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

4. I'll Sail My Ship Alone

5. Jambalya (On The Bayou)

6. A Six Pack To Go

7. The Battle Of New Orleans

8. Uncle Pen

9. Am I That Easy To Forget?

10. Truck Drivin' Man

11. The Window Up Above

12. Lost Highway

13. Goodnight Irene

14. Hey Good Lookin'

15. In The Jailhouse Now

x

Track List: Carney

1. Tight Rope

2. Out In The Woods

3. Me And Baby Jane

4. Manhattan Island Serenade

5. Cajun Love Song

6. Roller Derby

7. Carney

8. Acid Annapolis

9. If The Shoe Fits

10. My Cricket

11. This Masquerade

12. Magic Mirror

x

Track List: Leon Russell And The Shelter People

1. Stranger In A Strange Land

2. Of Thee I Sing

3. It's A Hard Rain Gonna Fall

4. Crystal Closet Queen

5. Home Sweet Oklahoma

6. Alcatraz

7. The Ballad Of Mad Dogs And Englishmen

8. It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry

9. She Smiles Like A River

10. Sweet Emily

11. Beware Of Darkness

12. It's All Over Now, Baby Blue (Previously Unissued Bonus Track)

13. Love Minus Zero - No Limit (Previously Unissued Bonus Track)

14. She Belongs To Me (Previously Unissued Bonus Track)

x

Track List: Leon Russell

1. A Song For You

2. Dixie Lullaby

3. I Put A Spell On You

4. Shoot Out On The Plantation

5. Hummingbird

6. Delta Lady

7. Prince Of Peace

8. Give Peace A Chance

9. Hurtsome Body

10. Pisces Apple Lady

11. Roll Away The Stone

12. Masters Of War (Old Masters)

Comments

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going back to Tulsa one more time
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A friend got up on stage at a concert in ok city when he first started touring. She knows who she is, Joyce
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I still think I'm the world's biggest LEON fan but I'm happy to share my Love for him with everyone else! I will always miss him.
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5 days ago... that's when I discovered Leon had passed over, Don't know why ,but I bawled like a two year old...
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Miss you, Leon. . .
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I think you made it back Leon hope everyone's there to say hello one day I'll see you there love you forever
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Never will forget seeing Leon with the whole band at the Rotunda decades ago in Las Vegas. Great show, A beaut.
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Masterpiece.
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irisandson
Loved your lyrics and beautiful soulful melodies--lo o k to the melody cuz my love is in there hiding. Sorry I missed your Tulsa performances . . . . t h i s okie loved you
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Goda kupanga ooh goda koo kawah
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I have been a fan since 1970. In 2009 I had the honor of lugging your piano on and off the stage at the Mountain Music Meltdown in upstate N.Y.. Your music will be missed. RIP my friend.
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RIP Leon.
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Dreams of a love unquenched
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steveson7
Thank you Mr Russell
you were a huge part of my life. I was fortunate enough to get to see you perform several times, always amazing, beautiful.
RIP
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I was fortunate enough to see mr. Leon Russell March 10th don't remember the year at Pirates world dania Florida
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wow...the master of time and space...gone . . . b u t never forgotten..T u l s a loved you Leon !
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Love you, Leon ,you were one of a kind. My kind and many others,! RIP
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RIP Leon! It was a true honor to have known you! Thanks for the soulful music and good friendship!
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One of my favorite artist's in the 70's. A lot of memories for me with my first love. Never forget it.
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Genius...Hav e a peaceful rest.
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Saw him live decades apart....gre a t both times. You and your musical genius will be missed!
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RIP ON THAT TIGHT WIRE! LADY BLUE !
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deirdre222
we will all miss you, you were a genius.
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No I'm lost without you
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Rest In Peace brah! You will be missed
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Lady blue is forever as you are too, I will never forget what your songs have meant in my life. Thank you for letting me be better with your soul speaking the words I could never have found.
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jazcher
May the road to Heaven be swift & smooth...lov e to your family.
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kzinskie
Love you, Leon. RIP--you will be missed.
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prldy
Thank you for making special moments even better by your music
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I've been listening to you since the seventies I'll Always Love You music I'm going to miss you Leon rest in peace brother
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RIP Leon, you will be missed ��
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One of these days I will read the above bio....all I know is Leon Russell is a true American original..hi s music like him
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Saw him at Market Hall in Dallas on New Year's Eve in 1974 awesome show Willie Nelson opened
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Stop the money chase...Lay back, relax, get back on the human track.
Stop racing toward oblivion...O h , such a sad, sad state we're in
And that's a thing!!!.... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . C l a s s i c Leon!
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Uncle Jessie!
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Leon Russell is a one of kind musician.
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Loved him all my teenage years and beyond
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wstonem99
I have loved him since the White Wedding album but nothing beats, This Masquerade,
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wstonem99
I have loved him since White Wedding Album.
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wstonem99
I have loved his music since White Wedding. I have met him a few times and he seems just as you would think from his music.
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I love...A Song for You....and Lady Blue...xo
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Neon don't you go away from us we're running out a great people I love you
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His voice seems as strong as ever. Gettin' this album...
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Hey leon so,do you need an old drummer ? Dennis pracht public co.
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mysteriousst r a n g e r s 8 6
❤❤❤❤❤
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Hustlers stand around me, I'm lost and all alone. Can't tell the bad from the good; I'm out in the woods, I'm lost in the woods. Love the stange arrangement of this song, especially the Afro-Caribbe a n twist at the end. This is Leon at his best

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1973 St. Louis owned regal's grill traded a old fan for 4 back stage passes. Always will remember that.Great concert
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Get to take my daughter and her husband to his show next month. Can't wait! Beyond the Legend...
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I'm so cal dude, saw leon in Kansas city 1989, no words, unbelievable . Edgar Winter opened show. Small club peace out
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Loved Leon since the 70s. Still as strong as ever. Lady Blue hooked me then, but Hands of Angels have me hooked again. Love you, Leon. Keep singing as long as you can.
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