Songwriter, Pianist Leon Russell Dies At 74

Leon Russel Songs

Photo: By Carl Lender (originally posted to Flickr as Leon Russell) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Singer songwriter and pianist Leon Russell has died at the age of 74. The singer’s website announced on November 13th 2016, that Leon Russell has passed away in his sleep.

Leon Russell was born on April 2, 1942  in Lawton, Oklahoma. Leon Russel began his musical career as a young teenage performer working in the nightclubs of Tulsa Oklahoma. He became known as a session musician in the early 1960’s. In the mid 1960’s Leon Russell  signed a recording contract and began a successful career as a solo artist. In 1965, he released his first solo single on Dot Records entitled “Everybody’s Talking ‘Bout the Young.”

As Leon Russell’s career began to flourish in the late 1960’s, his songwriting skills were noticed by industry giants. Joe Cocker recorded one of Leon Russell’s songs in 1969 entitled “Delta Lady.” The song was released on Cocker’s successful 1969 album Mad Dogs and Englishmen.

It was in 1970 when Leon Russell recorded and released what would become his signature song. “A Song For You,” The song was released on Leon Russell’s first solo album on Shelter Records. It would be recorded time and time again by some of the most famous artists in popular music history.

While the classic track “A Song For You,” would define the Leon Russell sound, the artist would go on to compose more pop cultural classics such as George Benson’s huge hit This Masquerade which was also recorded by cult favorite Helen Reddy.

Many rock and roll and popular music piano players often cite Elton John as one of their most important influences. However, Elton John himself has said that it was Leon Russell who inspired him as a piano player. One of Leon Russell’s last contributions to popular music culture was the Union Duet album he recorded with Elton John in 2010.

Leon Russell had continued to perform concerts up until his passing. The heart and soul of a true piano player never stops playing, even when there gone. We will miss you Leon

 

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