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Friday, July 8, 2011

Leon Russell

Tonight @ M&I Classic Rock Stage, Summerfest, 10 p.m.

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For fans of Leon Russell, induction of the Oklahoma-born singer and piano player into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this past March was a question of when, not if. Russell, 69, has had a seminal career playing rock and roll, blues and gospel both on his own and accompanying some of popular music's leading lights. Born Claude Russell Bridges in 1942, Russell began performing in Tulsa nightclubs at age 14. As a session musician, he has accompanied everyone from Doris Day, Frank Sinatra and Glen Campbell to Jerry Lee Lewis, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. Russell's “Delta Lady” was a 1969 hit for British bluesman Joe Cocker, and Russell was the organizer of Cocker's 1970 Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour. He also performed at George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh in 1971.
Russell, who also plays Hammond B-3 organ, guitar and bass guitar, slowed a bit in recent years, but saw his career revive after the release of The Union, a 2010 double-album he recorded with fellow keyboard artist Elton John. The pair appeared as musical guests on “Saturday Night Live” this past April, and Russell's star has once again begun its ascendancy. (Michael Muckian)
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