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