Russell remains realistic
BY Tribune staff and wire reports
Nov 26, 1985
1/16/13 at 2:22 AM
LEON RUSSELL’S white wispy hair plunges to the middle of his back and his silver beard draws a Mason-Dixon line on his face as he describes an album.
“It’s about this size,” the Oklahoma native says, a smile finding its way out of his drooping beard while his hands work through the air to draw a square.
It’s a straightforward answer from an unconventional man.
The 43-year-old Russell has been called “the master of space and time” and was a commanding figure in rock music in the ‘70s.
Russell took a three-year hiatus from recording in 1981 to move his business interests from Los Angeles to Nashville and to recover from his divorce from Mary McCreart Russell.
He re-emerged in 1984 with a rock ‘n’ roll album, “Solid State,” and a country LP, “Hank Wilson Vol. II.”
Russell days he did not miss being out of the public eye.
I have a certain amount of difficulty dealing with too much limelight,” he says.
A pianist-songwriter-singer, Russell’s best-known albums include “Will O’ The Wisp,” “Leon Russell and the Shelter People” and “Carney.” As a songwriter, he is one of pop music’s most respected tunesmiths. “This Masquerade” won jazz guitarist George Benson a Record of the Year Grammy Award, while the Carpenters went to No. 1 with “A Song For You.” His own top 10 hits include “Tightrope” and “Lady Blue.”
Before he became hit-maker Leon Russell, he was Russell Bridges and playing in Tulsa bands with David Gates (who formed the pop group Bread) and with J.J. Cale (then Johnny).
In the early ‘60s Russell left Tulsa to work in Los Angeles.
Russell says he still enjoys writing songs.
“I have a quota of one a day, but you don’t always get one. I keep thinking I’ll get a revelation, but things never happen the same way. I won’t tell you how far behind I am.
WHO: Leon Russell
WHERE: Tulsa City Limits, 2117 S. Garnett Road
WHEN: Wednesday. Doors open at 6 p.m.
TICKETS: $9 in advance at Carson Attractions, $11 at the door.