Rock and Roll Hall of Fame member Leon Russell is a music legend, and is one of the most accomplished and versatile musicians in the history of rock ‘n roll. In his distinguished and unique 50 year career, he has played on, arranged, written and/or produced some of the best records in popular music.
Leon has played on pop, rock, blues, country, bluegrass, standards, gospel, and surf records. As a session musician, arranger, producer, singer, songwriter, pianist, guitarist, record company owner, bandleader, and touring musician, he has collaborated with hundreds of Hall of Fame artists. In the 1960s Leon was part of an elite group of studio musicians called the Wrecking Crew, and played on hundreds of hit records. He was part of studio groups such as The Routers and The Super Stocks before starting to record under his own name. Russell has six Gold Records to his credit, and his collaboration records rank as some of the best in rock music.
Russell’s first commercial success came when Joe Cocker recorded his song “Delta Lady” in 1969. The song appeared on the album Joe Cocker!, produced by Leon. Russell became the Musical Director for Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, playing 65 shows in 48 cities. Russell’s album with Willie Nelson, One For the Road, went gold and earned the two a Grammy nomination.
As a songwriter, Leon’s songs have hit the charts across all genres and have been covered by a diverse range of artists. Ray Charles recorded ‘A Song For You’, B.B. King had a hit with ‘Hummingbird’, The Carpenters with ‘Superstar’ and Joe Cocker with ‘Delta Lady’. The Carpenter’s cover of “Superstar”, written by Leon and Bonnie Bramlett, went to #2 on the pop music charts. George Benson won the “Record of the Year” Grammy in 1976 for his cover of Leon’s song, “This Masquerade”, and it became the first song in music history to hit #1 on the jazz, pop and R&b charts.