Sunday, August 6, 2000

Leon Russell ~ 2000

Claude Russell Bridges was born April 2, 1942, in Lawton, Oklahoma. Known professionally as Leon Russell, he is an American singer-songwriter, pianist, and guitarist.

Russell attended Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and began his musical career as a session musician, quickly gaining experience and becoming a high-end keyboardist in demand to notable artists from the 1960s to the present. Russell has played with artists as varied as Jerry Lee Lewis, Joe Cocker, George Harrison, Delaney Bramlett, Ringo Starr, Elton John, BB King, Freddie King, Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman, The Byrds, The Beach Boys, Willie Nelson, Badfinger, Tijuana Brass, J.J. Cale, David Gates, Frank Sinatra, The Band, Marc Benno, Edgar and Johnny Winter, Glen Campbell, Gary Busey, Jesse Ed Davis, and The Rolling Stones. With a solo career spanning the genres of rock, blues, and gospel.

His first songwriting hit was Joe Cocker's 1969 version of "Delta Lady", and Russell went on to organise Cocker's Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour as well as play in Cocker's backing band at the Woodstock Music Festival in 1969. The Russell-written "Superstar", sung by Rita Coolidge on that tour, would go on to be a big hit by The Carpenters, Luther Vandross, and others. Shortly thereafter, Russell released a solo album, Leon Russell, which included the original version of the popular "A Song for You".

For several years, Russell stayed largely out of the music spotlight, releasing Anything Can Happen with Bruce Hornsby in 1992, then two more albums in 1998 and 1999. He continues to tour at the age of 66. His bassist, Jack Wessel, has been with Russell close to 25 years, his son , Teddy Jack(named after Gary Busey's character on Sartain's show), and Sugaree Noel -born Oct 29, 1982.

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