Leon Russell

 

Rock snobs keep him in the footnotes, and aging ’60s blowhards call him a swamp-rockin’ villain, but the 35th anniversary of the fabled Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour is a prime time to restore Okla-homeboy Leon Russell to the critical pedestal. Russell, a sonic triple threat and then some, put the Byrds on the map as a Wrecking Crew star in Los Angeles and enjoyed one of rock’s most exciting solo careers in the ’70s, and his standards — “A Song for You,” “Superstar,” “This Masquerade,” “Hummingbird” (covered by B.B. King) — endure along with the great influence of his Tulsa Mafia and his association with the Bramletts. Plus he has mentored musicians as different as the Gap Band and Tom Petty. As for today, never count out a master bard who can deliver an exquisite Wedding Album laced with Womack funk, who can successfully adapt Dylan, and who can roll into the twang sublime with podnuh-fo’-life Willie Nelson.

Categories: Music