Another icon of my youth, Leon Russell, passed away at age 74. A piano player from Lawton, Oklahoma, Russell became a member of the “wrecking crew,” that set of session musicians who were responsible for most of the pop music coming out of L.A. in the early sixties, from the Beach Boys to the Mamas and the Papas and the Byrds. From there, he started playing with British stars, of the magnitude of John Lennon, George Harrison, Joe Cocker, and Eric Clapton. Also Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and. . .you name it. The man knew everybody and his eclectic taste meant that he played just about everything.
He was also the main originator of the “Tulsa Sound,” with its country rock boogie-woogie shuffle that made a mark in the 1970s. I grew up in the Tulsa area around then, and Leon was part of that silly teenaged scene on local late night TV with Mazeppa Pompazoidi (Gaylord Sartain) and Teddy Jack Eddy (Gary Busey). I remember driving to Tulsa to hear a free concert in a park with Leon and B.B. King, one of the best concerts I’ve ever heard.
After the jump, a link to an informative obituary and a video of what he could do. [Read more…]