Leg­endary rocker Leon Rus­sell dies

Baltimore Sun - - ENTERTAINMENT - — As­so­ci­ated Press

Leon Rus­sell, who per­formed, sang and pro­duced some of rock ’n’ roll’s top records, has died. He was 74.

An email from Leon Rus­sell Records says Rus­sell died Sun­day in Nashville, Tenn. Rus­sell had heart by­pass surgery in July and had been plan­ning on re­sum­ing tour­ing in Jan­uary, the email said.

Rus­sell played key­board for the Los An­ge­les stu­dio team known as the Wreck­ing Crew, help­ing pro­ducer Phil Spec­tor de­velop his game-chang­ing wall of sound ap­proach in the 1960s. 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 land­mark “Pet Sounds” al­bum, Jan and Dean’s “Surf City,” the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” and the Byrds’ “Mr. Tam­bourine Man.” 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. He recorded hit songs him­self like “Tight Rope” and “Lady Blue” and par­tic­i­pated in “The Con­cert for Bangladesh.” John Len­non, Ringo Starr and Ge­orge Har­ri­son played on his first al­bum, “Leon Rus­sell.”

In 2011, Rus­sell was cho­sen for in­duc­tion into the Song­writ­ers Hall of Fame.

“He was a men­tor, in­spi­ra­tion and so kind to me,” El­ton John said in a Face­book post Sun­day.

SUE OGROCKI/AP 2013

Leon Rus­sell, who died Sun­day, pro­duced and played on ses­sions for many artists and recorded hits him­self.

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