Music News

Leon Russell

Leon Russell is a living link to several different musical eras. As a teenager, he gigged with the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis in his fireballing prime before moving to Los Angeles and becoming a studio regular on Phil Spector productions such as Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High." His subsequent work on Joe Cocker's Mad Dogs & Englishmen album and tour earned him enough notoriety to launch a solo career that touched upon nearly every style in the American musical vernacular at one time or another. ("This Masquerade," a mega-hit for jazz guitarist George Benson, and "Delta Lady" are his best-known tunes.) He hasn't enjoyed a major-label release since Live at Gilley's, which Atlantic put out in 2000. But rather than give up the ghost, he created his own imprint, Leon Russell Records, as well as an affiliated website that peddles relatively new recordings, catalogue items stretching all the way back to 1971's Asylum Choir II, and even a Leon Russell bobblehead that depicts him in top hat, shades and a white beard that makes him look older than God. Which, in rock-music terms, he nearly is.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts