Leon Russell, Legendary Songwriter & Performer, Dead at 74


leon-russell                                                 Associated Press

Russell had heart bypass surgery in July and was recovering from that at the time of his death.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Leon Russell, who sang, wrote and produced some of rock ‘n’ roll’s top records, has died. He was 74.

An email from Leon Russell Records to The Associated Press says Russell died in Nashville on Saturday night. The email cites Russell’s wife as the source of the information. Russell had heart bypass surgery in July and was recovering from that at the time of his death. He had been planning on resuming touring in January, the email said.

Besides his music, Russell was known for his striking appearance: wispy white hair halfway down his back and that covered much of his face.

He wrote Joe Cocker’s “Delta Lady” and in 1969 put together Cocker’s “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour, which spawned a documentary film and a hit double album.

As a musician, primarily a pianist, he played on The Beach Boys’ “California Girls” and Jan and Dean’s “Surf City.” He also played guitar and bass.

Russell produced and played on recording sessions for Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, Ike and Tina Turner, the Rolling Stones and many others.


Former KJR/KOL Concerts West’s Dick Curtis and his story about Leon HERE


  1. He was a great honky tonk piano player and Southern bluesman with a distinctive drawly voice.
    Leon Russell played with Joe Cocker on the wild Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour… a very rowdy double sleeve rockin’ dance album I somehow, by the grace of God, remember from my gilded youth…

  2. Leon apparently was a key contributor to Gary Lewis and the Playboys’ studio sound. Maybe that’s why Gary (son of comic/movie star Jerry) had a much longer run of hits than other famous offspring bands like Dino Desi and Billy.

    Elton John helped Leon stage a modest comeback a few years back by recording an album with him.

    Like so many rocksters who caroused in their heydays, he lived relatively long and passed of natural causes. Closer to home, we lost another musical stalwart in recent days: Vancouver bassist Doug Edwards–who co-wrote Wildflower for his early ’70s band Skylark–died after battling heart disease and cancer. He subsequently joined Valdy & the Hometown Band, was a venerable session musician and, for the past two decades, bassist for Chilliwack.

    One of the most covered Canadian hits of all time, Wildflower coincidentally launched the career of Skylark keyboardist David Foster who reflected on Victoria-raised Doug’s legacy with that city’s Times Colonist newspaper.

    RIP Leon and Doug.


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