Rocker Russell dies at age 74
Leon Russell, who performed, sang and produced some of rock ‘n’ roll’s top records, has died. He was 74.
Russell’s wife, Jan Bridges, said in a statement that her husband died in his sleep Sunday at their Nashville home. She said Russell had heart bypass surgery in July and had been planning on resuming touring in January.
His final performance was July 10 in Nashville.
Besides his music, Russell was known for his striking appearance: wispy white hair halfway down his back and that covered much of his face.
“A true patriarch has been lost,” said Beau Charron, Russell’s guitar and pedal steel player, said in a statement. “Leon Russell fathered many musicians and fans thru life and love with his music. On his own terms. My years with him have shaped me in profound ways, and I am heartbroken to lose my mentor and friend.”
Tributes poured in from entertainers who appreciated Russell’s gospel-infused southern boogie piano rock, blues and country music.
On Twitter, Cat Stevens wrote that Russell was “a great influence and songwriter.” Charlie Daniels said Russell “left a lot of great music behind.” And Richard Marx tweeted: “What an extraordinary messenger of beauty he was.”
Leon Russell, right, is greeted by Elton John on the stage during their joint concert at the Hollywood Palladium in Los Angeles in 2010.