A. Michael Uhlmann Pays Tribute To The Late Great Leon Russell

Master of Space and Time – Leon Russell passes.

Leon Russell

by A. Michael Uhlmann

 

The only time I had a chance to see Leon Russell was at the Armadillo World Headquarter Reunion Show in Austin in November of 1994. Nonchalant he sat at that piano, his wavy long hair shimmering in all sorts of colors the stage lights projected on him. But his pounding of the ivory keys and him belting out his hits and some covers, are unforgetable – as well as the Governor of Texas, Ann Richards sitting in the audience, obviously enjoying every moment of it.

So it was quite with a shock to hear this morning that Leon Russell has passed away at the age of 74. His wife posted on Leon’s website and released a statement to the press, including a short biography. The Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame, and Songwriter’s Hall of Fame member started out as a sideman and can be found on recordings with everybody from Bob Dylan, Beach Boys, The Rolling Stones “Exile On Main Street” to Willie Nelson, with whom he cut a great duet album “One For The Road.” He released records under his stage name Leon Russell (given name Claude Russell Bridges) and under his alias Hank Wilson, when he switched into the country music genre. There is a “Best of Hank Wilson” album out, that I would highly recommend.

One of my favorite recordings is a bootleg, recorded at the Armadillo on Thanksgiving 1972, featuring Doug Sahm (of Sir Douglas Quintett’s “Mendocino” fame), Jerry Garcia (mostly on Steel Guitar) and Phil Lesh (both from the Grateful Dead) together with Leon. It’s a great cornucopia from traditional country (Hank Williams, Jimmie Rodgers) and Blues (T-Bone Walker, Jimmy Reed) to some R&B (Coasters, Drifters), old style Rock’n’Roll (Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley & Elvis) to The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan.

I will not elaborate in writing just another biopic about Leon and rather have you visit the New York Times, who has an excellent obituary.


The videos I picked, showcase two of his most famous songs “A Song For You” and “Tight Rope”

Sources: leonrussellrecords.com, YouTube, adioslounge.com, New York Times

 

 

 

 

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