J Howard Duff

Musician / Teacher / Nice Jacket Recording Artist

Leon Russell-Inspiritor

One of the musicians that inspired me over the years was Leon Russell. He passed away yesterday at the age of 74, never recovering from a quadruple bypass earlier this year.

While many of us “oldsters” remember him for his solo career, Leon was the pianist on Bobby Boris Pickett's “Monster Mash”; played the keys and arranged “This Diamond Ring” (Gary Lewis & the Playboys), was a member of “The Shindogs” (the house band for the legendary 60’s show “Shindig”). He also played the piano on “Live With Me” by The Stones on the “Let It Bleed” LP, and was the bandleader for Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dog & Englishmen” tour (not an easy job leading 20 crazed & talented hippie musicians while Cocker was upfront).

He also wrote the songs “Delta Lady”(Joe Cocker). “Your Song” (Ray Charles), “Hummingbird” (BB King), and “Superstar” (the Carpenters!). He collaborated with more artists that I can list. My favorite Leon Russell moment comes at the end of the song “Cry Me A River” from the “Mad Dogs” movie. All of the band is in a gospel/rock n’ roll frenzy when the song is calmly retarded under Leon’s direction. He takes a moment to brush back his hair, and counts the band back in to jet to the climax of the song. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qjp_iG9vzEU

We will miss “The Master Of Space & Time”!