Leon Russell

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Leon Russell was born Claude Russell Bridges on April 2, 1942 in Lawton, Oklahoma and died on November 13, 2016. Russell began a remarkable career at a young age, playing in bars at age 14 with friend J.J. Cale before going on the road with Jerry Lee Lewis two years later. At 19, Leon was already a top-call studio musician whose work would encompass sessions for Phil Spector, the Beach Boys, the Byrds, Herb Alpert’s Tijuana Brass, Frank Sinatra, and Dean Martin. Russell has played on pop, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, standards, gospel, and surf records. As a session musician, arranger, producer, singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist, record company owner, bandleader, and touring musician, he has collaborated with a host of artists, including Glen Campbell, Joe Cocker, Willie Nelson, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, David Gates, Bruce Hornsby, Rita Coolidge, Gram Parsons, Barbra Streisand, Ike and Tina Turner, Ricky Nelson, Herb Alpert, Frank Sinatra, and Aretha Franklin, and groups such as Bonnie & Friends, the Monkees, the Astronauts, the Accents, the Fencemen, the Ventures, Wayne Newton, the Beach Boys, and scores of others.

In 1969 Leon co-founded Shelter Records, led Joe Cocker’s band on the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour in 1970, and in 1971 he performed at the concerts for Bangladesh. During the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, Shelter Records released his 1970 solo album, “Leon Russell,” which included the first recording of “A Song For You”. This has become one of his best-known songs, with versions released by more than 40 different artists including the Carpenters, Ray Charles, Peggy Lee, Willie Nelson, Helen Reddy, Whitney Houston, Elkie Brooks, Amy Winehouse, Donny Hathaway, and Christina Aguilera. Billboard Magazine named Leon the biggest concert attraction of 1973 with audiences of 20,000 fans.

Available works