I would be remiss not to mention Leon Russell. He’s best known to most of us as the fellow who made Joe Cocker a star, however briefly, by putting together a rigorously-rehearsed, inhumanly competent touring band then putting Cocker up front to shake and rattle. Leon Russell was a great songwriter, hampered as a solo artist by his acquired-taste voice. But the thing I loved best about the man was a quote from an interview he did a few years ago. The writer was waiting for him in the dressing room before a show. Leon shuffled in — an old man, desperately tired and ill from numerous different chronic problems that would eventually kill him. He shook the writer’s hand. Then he said, “Give a minute to get into my Leon Russell outfit.” He came back in his late-trademark all-white suit, groomed and energetic, ready to do business.

Leon understood the idea that to perform is to step outside yourself. He never confused himself with Leon Russell. Any of us who perform music for an audience, or who write for one, should remember that same basic, humbling lesson.

4 Replies to “Leon”

  1. aircooledTOM

    Privileged to have seen him a few times. A truly incredible performer. I was very sad to hear about his passing.

    He rarely bantered or tried to set up a song, he just drawled ‘thank you’ and got to the next song. He autographed one of my cds. A true talent and a class act.

  2. -Nate

    I’m one of those who loved his voice as well as lyrics and music straight from the jump .

    Thanx for the music and R.I.P. Good Sir .


  3. olddavid

    My appreciation began with the Asylum Choir series with Marc Benno. The second being a true classic with ” a dollar for your fingers, five dollars for your eyes – you’ll find the cost of freedom and realize..” or as close as my old memory can recollect the words now 45 years old. I’m going hunting for the vinyl right now. Probably in the basement with 4000 of its brothers. Or maybe just put a 10″ reel of 1971 and hope for the best. I will sure miss knowing he is in the world somewhere…..


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