Obit: Leon Russell

I don’t remember whether I first heard Leon Russell on Mad Dogs and Englishmen, or the Concert for Bangladesh or his excellent solo albums. What I remember is that he was off the radar until he was on it, and when we found out about him we loved his songs and his piano, we loved his Stones covers and we loved Youngblood. But what I remember most distinctly was learning that he’d been a session player on Frank Sinatra sides!


But when someone dies you learn other things. Such that Russell co-wrote (with Bonnie Bramlett) Superstar, the great weird Carpenters song.

And then there is the session work, like this early Stones demo featuring Russell, Ringo Starr and Paul McCartney, of a song that grew up to become Shine A Light.

And then there is the big hit.



2 thoughts on “Obit: Leon Russell

  1. I remember first encountering Russell as one of the songwriters for Gary Lewis and the Playboys. Lewis co-wrote “She’s Just My Style” and “Everybody Loves a Clown” and amazingly, Al Kooper (who co-wrote “This Diamond Ring” was in there too.

    Leon was set to play the UC Theater in Berkeley next week.

    Sigh (sorry Steve, but what can you say?). Think he was married to Merry Clayton, no?

    Big loss.

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