Legendary Hall of Fame rock 'n' roller Leon Russell passed away overnight, according to posts from his wife on Russell's Facebook page and website.
Russell, who attended Will Rogers High School and went on to fame as one of the greatest singer/songwriters of his time, died in his sleep at the age of 74 in Nashville, according to the posts.
In his 50-plus year career, Russell authored such iconic songs as A Song For You, one of the most recorded cover songs of all time with its unforgettable lyrics: "I've been so many places in my life and time. Sung a lot of songs. I've made some bad rhymes."
Russell, throughout his career, recorded with many legends including Elton John, Joe Cocker, George Harrison, Bob Dylan, John Lennon and Barbra Streisand.
Among other songs Leon wrote and recorded are his first hit Roll Away the Stone, Home Sweet Oklahoma, Back to the Island, Tight Rope, Delta Lady, Lady Blue, This Masquerade, Hummingbird, and If it Wasn't for Bad with Elton John.
Russell appeared at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa in June and suffered a heart attack in July. He also had suffered a brain tumor about a decade ago and had brain surgery at the time. He made his comeback with an album recorded with Elton John in 2010 and played at the BOK Center in Tulsa with John that year. Elton told stories during that concert that he learned his iconic banging style on the piano from Russell and of spending the night at Russell's home in John's formative years of the 1970s when he would be the opening act for Russell.
The Tulsa rocker had also made an appearance at the Circle Cinema in Tulsa when his documentary "A Poem is a Naked Person" debuted on screen. He had worked on the film for 40 years and featured many of his concert appearances from the 1970s.
Russell was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011. He was born in Durant in 1942 and began piano lessons at the age of 4. He was playing in Tulsa nightclubs by the age of 14.
Russell's wife, Jan Bridges released a statement following Russell's death. Read the full statement below.
“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.”
Russell's band mate, Beau Charron, also released a statement following the news.
“A true Patriarch has been lost. 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. We (the band) love him so much, and we know he loves us too. Just listen to the melody...”
No services have been announced yet.
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