Russell's mind on new album
BY ELLIS WIDNER
Mar 27, 1992
1/16/13 at 2:20 AM
WHAT: Leon Russell's 50th Birthday Bash. The Bill Davis Band
will open the show.
WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Thursday.
WHERE: Brady Theater, 105 W. Brady St.
TICKETS: $17.50 at Brady Theater, 105 W. Brady St.
"Well I'm goin' back to Tulsa one more time,
I've got home sweet Oklahoma on my mind"
"Home Sweet Oklahoma"
by Leon Russell
Leon Russell has lots of things on his mind these days.
He is pleased to be coming back to Tulsa one more time to
celebrate his 50th birthday Thursday at the Brady Theater.
A new album, "Anything Can Happen," will be issued by
Virgin Records April 7. It is his first in a decade and
was co-produced by Russell fan Bruce Hornsby.
Russell is working on his autobiography, but don't expect
a total tell-all.
"I don't want to tarnish my image," Russell said, laughing
quietly. "After all, I can't possibly live up to half of
what people think I've done."
Speaking by telephone, Russell was upbeat and excited about
his new recording.
"I think it might be the best record I've ever made,"
he said. Russell's best-known songs include pop and rock
classics such as "This Masquerade," "Superstar," "A
Song for You," "Delta Lady" and "Lady Blue."
As he has done in the past, Russell did most of the writing
for his new album as he recorded it.
"We recorded on computer," he said. "Most of the stuff
I do is done on the first take. With the computer, I can
fix what's wrong, rather than record it again. It is much faster."
The Central High School graduate says he enjoyed collaborating
with Hornsby in the studio.
Hornsby, known for hits such as "The Way It Is" and "Mandolin
Wind," often plays a Russell song or two in his concerts.
Another collaboration pleased Russell: his son, Teddy Jack,
16, and daughter Tina, 13, sing with him on the album.
But when it comes to inspiration for songwriting, Russell
says his word processor tops the list.
"I can sit down and lose myself in writing. It's like a
stream of consciousness, almost like automatic writing."
Russell's visual image, the long and flowing silver-white
beard and hair, is as distinctive as his songs and singing voice.
But don't judge him by appearances, he warns.
"In many ways, I'm a lot more conventional than people
think," says the Nashville-area resident.
His hair started to grow while he was still a top recording-session
musician in the '60s.
"I used to have horrible hair," Russell said. "It stuck
out in back like Alfalfa (of the Little Rascals). So I got
a shaped movie-star cut from Jay Sebring.
"But one day I was late for a session and didn't have time
to put all that stuff on it. My hair was awry. People I had been
working with who had been very nice suddenly treated me very strange,
with animosity and hate. It made me think a lot on how people treat
people because of the way they look.
"I decided I'd never cut my hair again."
And he didn't.
"I wanted always to be reminded of the potential inhumanity
of our species. Besides," he adds with a chuckle, "I hate
to waste time sitting in a barber chair."
The longer hair and beard were in place when Russell recorded
his first album in 1970. More than two decades later, he
has amassed six million-selling albums and shared a Grammy
Award for album of the year with George Harrison and Eric
Clapton for "The Concert for Bangla Desh" in 1972.
Many of Russell's Shelter Records albums have been re-released
on compact disc.
Though he has played music with Delaney & Bonnie, Joe Cocker,
Frank Sinatra, Ike & Tina Turner and countless others, Russell
says no one experience stands out in his career.
"I'm just proud to be alive, to be celebrating another
birthday and to keep making music."