Leon Russell was an American musicsian and songwiter wgo recorded as a session musician, sideman. Let’s see some amazing facts and trivia about him.
1.His full name was Claude Russel Bridges.
2. He was born on April 2 and passed away at November 13,2016.
3. Born in Lawton, Oklahoma United States, Russell began playing piano at the age of four.
4. He attended Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Also at Will Rogers High School were Anita Bryant, who was one year older, and in the same 1959 class, David Gates.
5. Russell and Gates played and recorded together as the Fencement. Another student at Will Rogers during this time was Elvin Bishop, although he was a few years younger than the previously mentioned.
6. During this time Russell was already performing at Tulsa nightclubs.
7. After moving to Los Angeles in the late 1950s, he became a session musician, working as a pianist on the recordings of many notable 1960s musical artists.
8. By the late 1960s, Russell diversified, becoming successful as an arranger and songwriter.
9. By 1970, he had graduated to solo recording artist, although he never ended his previous roles within the music industry. After performing country music under the name Hank Wilson in the 1970s and 1980s, Russell had largely faded into obscurity.
10. He re-emerged in 2010 when Elton John called on him to record an album that became The Union
11. The album brought renewed popularity to Russell who has since released a solo album and toured around the world.
12. Leon Russell was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on March 14, 2011.
13. In June, 2011, Leon Russell was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.
14. According to Russell’s wife, Jan Bridges, Leon died quietly in his sleep on the morning of November 13, 2016 at his suburban Nashville home at the age of 74.
15. He suffered a heart attack in July 2016, requiring bypass surgery. Since then, he had postponed shows while convalescing at home.
16. Known mostly as a session musician early in his career, as a solo artist he has crossed genres to include rock and roll, blues, and gospel music, playing with artists as varied as Jan & Dean, Gary Lewis, George Harrison, Gram Parsons, Delaney Bramlett, Ringo Starr, Doris Day, Elton John, Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, the Byrds, Barbra Streisand, the Beach Boys, the Ventures, Willie Nelson, Badfinger, Tijuana Brass, Frank Sinatra, the Band, Bob Dylan, J.J. Cale, B.B. King, Dave Mason, Glen Campbell, Joe Cocker and the Rolling Stones.
17. Leon Russell moved from Tulsa to Los Angeles in 1958. where, as a first-call studio musician, he played on many of the most popular songs of the 1960s, including some by the Byrds, Gary Lewis and the Playboys, Bobby “Boris” Pickett, and Herb Alpert.
18. He can be seen in 1964’s T.A.M.I. Show, playing piano with “the Wrecking Crew” (an informal name for the top L.A. session musicians of the 1960s), sporting short, dark, slicked-back hair, in contrast to his later look.
19. Soon after, he was hired as Snuff Garrett’s assistant/creative developer, playing on numerous #1 singles, including “This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.
20. He wrote or co-wrote two hit songs for Gary Lewis and Playboys: Everybody Loves a Clown (which hit the Billboard Top 40 on October 9, 1965, remaining on the chart for eight weeks and rising to number 4) and She’s Just My Style (which hit Billboard′s Top 40 on December 18, 1965, and rose to number 3).
21. He played xylophone and bells on the 1966 single The Joker Went Wild, sung by Brian Hyland and penned by Bobby Russell (no relation to Leon). He also worked sessions with Dorsey Burnette and Glen Campbell on Campbell’s 1967 album Gentle on My Mind, where he was credited as “Russell Bridges” on piano, and arranged and conducted the 1966 easy listening album Rhapsodies for Young Lovers by the Midnight String Quarte
22. 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. Both the Carpenters and the Temptations named an album after the song. Also in 1970, Russell played piano on Dave Mason’s album, Alone Together, most notably on the song “Sad and Deep as You”.
23. On September 11, 2015, Russell joined alumni, Rita Coolidge, Claudia Lennear, Chris Stainton and other members of the 1970 Joe Cocker Mad Dogs and Englishmen Tour for a special tribute concert to Joe Cocker organized by the Tedeschi Trucks Band.
24. Pixies vocalist Black Francis credits Russell with influencing his vocal style: “I realize there’s a certain kind of vocalizing I do that takes its cue from Leon Russell. He sang in a southern accent but it was very blown-out and exaggerated, very free and loose.
25. Russell extended a nationwide concert tour to enthusiastic crowds in 2016 and was originally scheduled to tour into 2017.