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Leon Russell

Before he went on to be the intense, charismatic performer noted for his intense stare, long grey locks and incredible piano skills, Oklahoma-born musical prodigy Leon Russell scored his first nightclub gig at 14, playing behind Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks in Tulsa before going on to back Jerry Lee Lewis on tour. He soon became a renowned session musician, working for the likes of Phil Spector and playing on some of the biggest hits of the '60s. He also honed his production skills, working on such classics as Ike and Tina Turner's "River Deep, Mountain High" and The Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man." He's probably most renowned for his work producing and accompanying Joe Cocker on the Mad Dogs and Englishman tour and album, after which he went on to a successful solo career in the '70s. Toward the end of that decade he had moved somewhat into country music, and recorded very little in the '80s. In 1992 he released Anything Can Happen, a collaboration with Bruce Hornsby.

Written by: Mary Eisenhart

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