Leon Russell (born Claude Russell Bridges April 2, 1942, died November 13, 2016) was an American musician and songwriter, who has recorded as a session musician, sideman, and maintained a solo career in music.
Born in Lawton, Oklahoma, he began playing piano at the age of four. Russell attended Will Rogers High School in Tulsa, Oklahoma. At this time he was already performing at Tulsa nightclubs. After moving to Los Angeles, he became a session musician, working as a pianist on the recordings of many notable musical artists from the 1960s. By the late 1960s, Russell diversified, becoming successful as an arranger and wrote and co-wrote songs. As a musician, he worked his way up from gigs as a sideman to well known performers. By 1970 he had graduated to solo recording artist, although he never ended all his previous roles within the music industry.
Russell was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, March 14, 2011
According to his wife, Leon Russel died in his sleep Nov. 13 2016.
Leon Russell – A Hard Rain’s Gonna Fall: