Leon Russel’s “Tight Rope” has been playing over and over in my head for a least a week and I finally realized why this morning: the died on November 13 and the song was no doubt planted in my subconscious by my habit of falling asleep with my TV tuned to CNN. Truthfully, I’d be lying if I claimed to have been a big Leon Russel follower over the years, but “Tight Rope” has always been a favorite of mine. And, after a little research revealed the true depths of his accomplishments, I’ve concluded that I must do my part to memorialize the awesome talent that Leon Russel was.
Leon Russell (born Claude Russell Bridges; April 2, 1942 – November 13, 2016) was an American musician and songwriter who was involved with numerous bestselling pop music records over the course of his 60-year career. His genres included pop, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, standards, gospel and surf records, with six Gold Records to his credit.
His collaboration records rank as some of the most successful and as a touring musician, he performed with hundreds of Hall of Fame artists. He recorded 33 albums and at least 430 songs. He wrote “Delta Lady”, recorded by Joe Cocker, and organized and performed with Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour in 1970. More than 100 artists have recorded his “A Song for You” (1970).
As a pianist, he played in his early years on albums by the Beach Boys and Jan and Dean. On his first album, Leon Russell, in 1970, musicians included Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr and George Harrison. One of his biggest early fans, Elton John, said Russell was a “mentor” and “inspiration”. They recorded The Union in 2010, which was later nominated for a Grammy.
Russell produced and played in recording sessions for Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ike & Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones, and others. He wrote and recorded the hits “Tight Rope” and “Lady Blue”. He performed at the Concert for Bangladesh in 1971 along with Dylan and Eric Clapton, and in 2011 was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
We’ll miss you Leon…
I STILL want ice water.
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