Leon Russell Dead at 74

By Radio.com Staff

Leon Russell has died at the age of 74.

A short statement on Russell’s official Facebook page reads:

Musician Leon Russell has died in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife said he died in his sleep.

His wife, Jan Bridges, released this statement: “We thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this very, very difficult time. My husband passed in his sleep in our Nashville home. He was recovering from heart surgery in July and looked forward to getting back on the road in January. We appreciate everyone’s love and support.”

Claude Russell Bridges was born in Lawton, OK on April 2nd, 1942. He began work as session musician in the 1950s and went on to work with artists including Jan and Dean, Frank Sinatra, the Beach Boys, several Phil Spector records and the Byrds. In 1969, he joined Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, a loose collective that occasionally featured Eric Clapton and George Harrison. In 1969, he co-produced Joe Cocker’s Joe Cocker! album, and co-wrote the hit “Delta Lady.” He then put together the band for Cocker’s legendary “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour. During that time, he wrote “Superstar,”sung by Rita Coolidge and which was later covered by the Carpenters. In 1970, he released his self-titled debut, which featured one of his most popular songs, “A Song for You.”

By the ’90s and 2000’s Russell’s profile had lowered considerably, until Elton John – a huge fan – reached out to him for a collaboration. The two released a duo album, The Union, in 2010, and he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame shortly after. Watch Elton John’s speech about Russell at his Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction below.

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