Leon Russell dies at 74
Monday, November 14, 2016
– Leon Russell, a bluesy, soulful singer, who also delved into country, died on Sunday at 74 in Nashville.
Russell, who had a long career as a solo artist and sideman, had heart surgery in July and died in his sleep, according to his wife.
Russell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. He produced and played in sessions with Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra and the Rolling Stones. Russell also released "The Union" in 2010 with Elton John as a duets album, a disc which rejuvenated his career. He had hits as a solo artist with "Tight Rope" and "Lady Blue."
Claude Russell Bridges was born April, 2, 1942 in Lawton, Okla. He started playing piano at the age of four and performed in Tulsa nightclubs. He adopted the name Leon as a teen. Russell moved in Los Angeles at the age of 16, studying guitar with James Burton, who played with Elvis Presley.
Russell played on various sessions, including Glen Campbell's 1967 album "Gentle On My Mind." He continued writing, recording, founded the Shelter Records label, which released Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and the Dwight Twilley Band along with forging his own solo career.
Russell released "Hank Wilson's Back! (Vol. 1)," a country disc recorded at producer Owen Bradley's barn studio in Nashville in 1973.
Following a tour with Nelson, the two had a number 1 hit in 1979 with their duet of "Heartbreak Hotel." They put out "One for the Road," a country pop rock disc in 1979.
Russell soon spent a few years touring with progressive bluegrass band New Grass Revival, which included Sam Bush and John Cowan. The band backed him up on tour. They released a live album in 1981, "Leon Russell& New Grass Revival: The Live Album," a disc recorded on May 15, 1980 in Pasadena, Cal.
A second Hank Wilson disc, "Hank Wilson Vol. II" came out in 1984. A third volume was out in 1998 with "Rhythm & Bluegrass: Hank Wilson, Vol. 4" in 2001 on his own label.
He released a number of albums on his own with his career on the downslide until recording the disc with Elton John.
CD reviews for Leon Russell
Best of Hank Wilson
To the casual observer it might seem odd that Leon Russell thinks he needs an alter ego for his country records, since everything he's ever done, including his hits in the 70's like Tightrope and Lady Blue never lacked for twang. But a closer look at the Hank Wilson nom du banjo itself (chosen to honor two of country's greatest Hanks - Williams and Thompson) as well as the track listings - absolutely indisputable classics such as Sixteen Tons, Heartaches by the Number, »»»
Legend in My Own Time: Hank Wilson, Vol. 3
Even if Leon Russell had not established himself as an acclaimed recording artist, his reputation as a session man would have ensured his status as a legend. While mostly associated with rock music, Russell's country credentials are solid. As in the previous two volumes show-casing his alter-ego Hank Wilson, he serves up reworkings of country classics. Included are three Willie Nelson classics ("Night Life," "Crazy" and "Funny How Time Slips Away"), and Nelson joins Russell on "He Stopped Loving »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk
When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: These Eagles keep songs alive and well
The newly reconfigured Eagles lineup, which now includes Vince Gill and Deacon Frey in place of the late Glenn Frey, hasn't changed its set much since this modified grouping's debut at Dodger Stadium in 2017. Don Henley announced from the outset, though, how the group continues to tour primarily so it can keep the Eagles' many great songs alive.... »»»
Concert Review: Lovett could not have scripted it any better
Cerritos is a fair distance from Hollywood, but Lyle Lovett, who has accumulated a long list of acting credits, sometimes seemed like he was giving a company town performance this night. Maybe it was because Paul Reiser, the "Mad About You" star, introduced Lovett with a funny bit about what some of the man's songs mean (or don't mean).... »»»
Follow Country Standard Time
Elsewhere in the news
Currently at the CST blogs
Dan Tyminski (known simply as "Tyminski" on his 2017 release "Southern Gothic") has traditional music roots and unassailable bluegrass street cred especially given his membership in Alison Krauss' Union Station. He is also a powerful songwriter and has been writing songs for himself and others for years now.... »»»
Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have powerhouse individual talents; each has followed an estimable career path to where they find themselves today: making complex, but spare, records, writing music together and touring with their son Juno. Their new release, "Echoes In The Valley" features mostly songs written by Fleck and Washburn, banjos, Washburn's strong vocals and very little else.... »»»
Legends don't come any more legendary than Chris Hillman. The roll call of bands that comprises Hillman's half century in music reads like a wing exhibit at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame; Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Manassas, the Souther Hillman Furay Band, the Desert Rose Band,... »»»
Carrie Underwood's life was reading straight from the storybooks: one of the few American Idol Winners with ongoing success; a professional athlete for a husband; a beautiful baby boy. The string of great fortune turned sharply in 2017, »»»
Not one to rest on his laurels, Willie Nelson's second studio release of the calendar year finds the artist dipping back into the Great American Songbook. Previous collections, including 1978's stellar Stardust, 2009's "American Classic" and 2016's "Summertime: Willie Nelson Sings Gershwin," established Nelson as one of the finest modern interpreters of American standards. »»»
Let It Pass
This is the swan song for The Stray Birds unfortunately, but at least they are parting with another musical triumph. This record barely got made as founding members, fiddler/guitarist/banjoist/vocalist Maya de Vitry and fiddle/guitarist/ »»»
"Pretty Bird" is Kathy Mattea's first studio album in six years, following 2012's "Follow Me Home." The major reason for this gap was Mattea's realization that her voice was changing so much, she felt as if she was losing it altogether. »»»