As if 2016 was not content with taking many great Rock luminaries this year, it had to its checklist with the taking of Leon Russell. Leon Russell, who entered the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 2011, and who produced not only great music with a myriad of legendary musicians and bands, but also gave us well over twenty solo albums, died in his sleep in the early morning hours of November 13. It wasn’t but a few days since the announcement of Leonard Cohen’s departure, that we were alerted to Leon Russell’s passing. That’s not enough time to grieve one death, let alone be assaulted with two.
Leon Russell left a grand wealth of music behind. With every track he played on for other bands and artists, he enriched that song just that much more. The same is said with his own releases. Great albums that were buoyed by great songs within them. With Carny (1972), there was “Tight Rope”. With Leon Russell (1970), there was “A Song For You”. And with Will O’ The Wisp (1975), there was “Lady Blue”.
But no matter the people he played with, the songs he played on, the songs he wrote (and he wrote plenty), and the music he left behind, he was a giant among our class of Rock and Roll. And as a friend said to me, he lived a full musical life, leaving behind a great legacy of song. While it’s sad that he’s gone, just like Leonard Cohen, he lives on in the music I choose to hear.
Thank you, Leon Russell! You give the great band a richness that it hasn’t had before!
“I’m up on the tightwire, flanked by life and the funeral pyre
putting on a show for you to see….”