Sunday, 13 November 2016

18 Legendary Things Leon Russell Did

Leonard Cohen, Bap Kennedy, Bob Cranshaw, Kay Starr, Jean-Jacques Perrey, Biser Kirov, Victor Bailey, Eddie Harsch and now Leon Russell. Those are notable musicians who have died this November so far.

That’s quite a few, and I would love to write a piece on each of them following each of their sad passings. But if I did, this blog would just become a musician’s obituary page. 

However Leon Russell is different. 

I mean… who else could pull of this look?

Leon Russell is possibly the most notable sideman of rock history. He played with The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, and many more, including artists outside of Rock, like Frank Sinatra, Doris Day, BB King and many others.

Rather than doing a standard obituary piece on one of the greatest pianists in rock history, I decided that perhaps a better thing to do would be to simply make a list of accomplishments. 

18 things Leon Russell can present to the afterlife, to prove he deserves in.

  • He was a member of the Starlighters at the age of 14, a group which included JJ Cale and was instrumental in the creation of the Tulsa Sound.

  • He studied guitar under Elvis Presley's guitarist James Burton.

His guitar teacher and his guitar teacher's boss.

  • He was a member of the Incredible Wrecking Crew, and with the assorted group of sidemen he played on such hits as Be My Baby by The Ronettes and The Little old Lady by Jan & Dean.

  • He released his first solo single in 1965, meaning he had a solo career for over half a century!

  • Was a member of the Delaney & Bonnie and Friends band in 1969 & 1970. During his time with the band he befriended collaborators George Harrison and Eric Clapton.

Russell sharing the Camera lense with Eric Clapton and Delany & Bonnie

  • Played on and produced Joe Cocker's Joe Cocker! 1969 album.

  • Wrote the song Superstar with Bonnie Bramlett. The song has been covered by artists as varied as The Carpenters and Sonic Youth. 

  • Released his first solo album in 1970, which included the song A Song For You. A Song For You has been covered by more than 40 artists including Whitney Houston, Amy Winehouse and Willie Nelson. Elton John has called the song a "American classic."

Russell with Willie Nelson

  • Produced and played on Bob Dylan's Watching The River Flow and When I Paint My Masterpiece singles.

  • Played at George Harrison's Concert For Bangladesh. Where he performed one of the highlights of the concert a mix up of Jumpin Jack Flash and Young Blood, as well as backing up Harrison and Bob Dylan's songs. 

  • Helped revive the noted blues guitarist Freddie King's career in the early 1970s by collaborating with him, and releasing his records through Shelter Records. 

The incredible song Russell performed at the humanitarian concert organised by the ex-beatle

  • Released several country and western albums under the pseudonym Hank Wilson.

  • Accordign to Billboard he made almost $3 million from his '72 tour

  • Was nominated for the 1977 Grammy for Song of the Year for The Masquerade sung by George Benson.

At the Concert for Bangladesh next to Bob Dylan and George Harrison

  • Released the album The Union with Elton John, which Rolling Stone called one of the 30 best albums of 2010.

  • The Pixies vocalist Black Francis credits Russell as a influence on his vocal style.

  • He was an active musician from 1956 until 2016.

  • Was a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

With admirer and collaborator Elton John.