May 18, 2024

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Leon Russell, the musician’s musician: New book takes an in-depth look at his life and career

Leon Russell, the musician’s musician: New book takes an in-depth look at his life and career

Leon Russell is dependable for substantially of the ideal music of the 1960s and ‘70s. From his function with the Wrecking Crew — a band of noteworthy Los Angeles musicians who played some of the major hits of the time — to remaining the musical drive driving Joe Cocker’s Mad Pet dogs & Englishmen tour, Russell was entrenched in the well-liked tunes scene for a long time.

He also co-established Shelter Data, which not only set out Russell’s possess tunes, but identified artists like Tom Petty and Phoebe Snow.

Russell experienced all but light into obscurity right until Elton John introduced him again into the spotlight and into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. Russell died in 2016 at the age of 74. He would have turned 81 this weekend.

Musician Monthly bill Janovitz introduced a new biography titled “Leon Russell: The Grasp of Room and Time’s Journey As a result of Rock and Roll Heritage,” which examines the influential musician’s lifetime and occupation.

The cover of Leon Russell: The Master of Space and Time's Journey Through Rock and Roll History
The include of Leon Russell: The Learn of Area and Time’s Journey As a result of Rock and Roll Historical past” (Courtesy of Hachette Books)

Book excerpt: ‘Leon Russell’

By Monthly bill Janovitz

Sir Elton John inducted his most critical influence, Leon Russell, into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. “He was my idol,” Elton reported ahead of bringing Leon up to the podium to give his acceptance speech. The at the time-lithe tremendous-hippie rock star ambled to the phase with the support of a cane—heavyset, dim sun shades contrasting with his pale facial area, all framed by his lengthy snowy white hair and beard, looking even more mature than his sixty-9 several years.

“About a 12 months in the past, Elton arrived and discovered me in a ditch by the aspect of the highway of lifetime,” Leon stated, haltingly, humbly, his voice breaking with emotion. “He took me up the large stages with significant audiences and taken care of me like a king. And the only matter I can say is, ‘Bless your coronary heart.’ Also, I want to say thank you quite a great deal, I appreciate it and, uh, hallelujah.”

The induction was a gratifying bookend to Leon Russell’s occupation, but it experienced been no uncomplicated endeavor. It really came down to the rigorous lobbying endeavours of Elton John.

There has been considerably angst about the Rock & Roll Corridor of Fame since its inception. Admission and inclusion in the Corridor of Fame are entirely subjective, and the nominating approach is mired down in biases and politics. Nevertheless, it has come to be meaningful to lots of of the artists inducted and a bone of contention for followers of artists—and some artists themselves—who are excluded.

From the outset, the only criterion was that an artist had to have introduced a file at least twenty-five many years back. That’s it.

“The standards have been intentionally still left open up,” mentioned Jon Landau, Bruce Springsteen’s manager and head of the nominating committee. Landau explained the elements as “a combine of excellent and influence. . . . We have artists with mass charm, and artists with a extremely slender viewers.” Discussing the J. Geils Band, Landau – who started off out as a person of Rolling Stone’s earliest editors – noted, “I’m nonetheless hoping to get them into the Corridor of Fame, unsuccessfully. Peter [Wolf ] is my oldest pal. We go again to 1967.”

I imply, who do you gotta know close to in this article?

Elton John was amid a 3rd wave of slam-dunk Hall of Famers. He was inducted in 1994. Around 2008, he begun to plead for Leon’s inclusion, which just primarily based on Leon’s career from 1959 to 1975 would appear a very apparent scenario. But he saved likely.

If it pleases the courtroom: Leon started out in 1959 with Jerry Lee Lewis moved to LA and became the first-call piano participant amongst the A-listing of the so-named Wrecking Crew session musicians, backing the Beach Boys and Frank Sinatra and participating in on pretty much all of Phil Spector’s hits. He was just one of the most vital forces for bringing collectively one particular of America’s most underappreciated bands, Delaney & Bonnie and Mates – the band that immediately adjusted the profession trajectories of George Harrison and Eric Clapton, between other folks. Leon pulled jointly Mad Canines & Englishmen for Joe Cocker cofounded Shelter Records, a powerhouse independent label that found out Tom Petty, the Dwight Twilley Band, and Phoebe Snow, signed J. J. Cale, and was critical in introducing reggae to The united states commenced his solo profession

with an pretty much flawless run of 3 solo albums, the initially of which featured two Beatles, two Rolling Stones, Clapton, and Steve Winwood was a prime intercontinental live performance attract all through rock’s golden period served Harrison organize rock music’s initial main all-star charity live performance, also a Grammy-successful album wrote no much less than 3 evergreen standards, like a song that topped all of the main professional charts racked up 6 gold information crossed over from rock to place right before that was a well-liked profession shift, scoring a number just one on the region chart offered the funk/R&B Gap Band and renegade progressive bluegrass New Grass Revival spearheaded innovation in recording, audio video clip, and music gear these types of as the drum equipment served start plenty of music-biz careers ongoing a devoted job prolonged immediately after the spotlight had moved on and then roared back again in his late sixties with a Grammy-nominated strike collaboration with his most celebrated protege. There really shouldn’t have been considerably to deliberate.

But he seemingly had vanished from the public eye. What took place? How did this genuine rock star finish up in “a ditch by the aspect of the highway of life”?

Excerpted from “Leon Russell: The Grasp of House and Time’s Journey By means of Rock & Roll Heritage” by Bill Janovitz. Copyright © 2023. Available from Hachette Textbooks, an imprint of Hachette E-book Group, Inc.