The renowned songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who collaborated with greats, such as George Harrison, Elton John, the Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan, Leon Russell died on Sunday; at the age of 74. The star had 50 years of work in the music industry.
Russell’s website made the announcement that said: “Leon Russell died on Nov. 13, 2016 in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife said that he passed away in his sleep. The Master Of Space And Time was a legendary musician and songwriter originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma who performed his gospel-infused southern boogie piano rock, blues, and country music for over 50 years.”
Russell did work with Elton John and as soon as the announcement was made, Elton John paid tribute on his Instagram profile, “My darling Leon Russell passed away last night. He was a mentor, inspiration and so kind to me. Thank God we caught up with each other and made The Union. He got his reputation back and felt fulfilled. I loved him and always will.” The two men collaborated on The Union in 2010.
In recent years, the inductee of Songwriters Hall of Fame and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame was dealing with a number of different health problems. In 2010, he had to have surgery to stop leaking brain fluid. This July, the artist suffered a heart attack, which also required surgery.
Born in 1942, outside of Tulsa, Oklahoma, Claude Russell Bridges began playing at nightclubs in the city, as a teenager. In high school, he formed his own band, the Starlighters. After graduating from high school, Russell was recruited by Jerry Lee Lewis to be a part of his touring unit. In 1970, Russell said, “When I had a chance to go on the road with Jerry Lee Lewis, I’d just spent three days, twelve hours a day, taking entrance examinations to Tulsa University, and I just thought, well, it’s a waste of time, cause I have to study so many things I’m not interested in.”