Leon Russell Dies: Rockers React
News of the death of Leon Russell has prompted an outpouring of public affection for the veteran songwriter and recording artist, with a wide variety of the musicians Russell worked with or affected over his long career sharing their tributes via social media.
Russell, who'd suffered a heart attack earlier this year, was still recuperating from surgery at the time of his death — which, according to his wife Jan Bridges, occurred peacefully at their home.
"We thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this very, very difficult time," wrote Bridges in a statement. "My husband passed in his sleep in our Nashville home. He was recovering from heart surgery in July and looked forward to getting back on the road in January. We appreciate everyone’s love and support."
The public charge of praise for Russell was led, unsurprisingly, by Elton John, who'd long considered Russell an influence and finally cut an album with him, the critical and commercial hit The Union, in 2010. Calling him a "mentor and an inspiration," John pledged his undying love for his friend and collaborator.
Gregg Allman, who shared a stage with Russell and John during the New York stop on their tour for The Union — and who shared a studio with him during the sessions for an obscure children's record in 1966 — also shared his condolences.
Kiss co-founder Paul Stanley paid eloquent tribute, referring to Russell as a "brilliant songwriter, pianist and bandleader" who carved out an uncompromising career studded with creative highlights.
New Orleans legend Dr. John, whose own mastery of the keys and devotion to roots music have forged a similarly unique path through classic rock, shared a photo of himself with Russell at the 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Those tributes are but a few of the increasing number being posted in the wake of Russell's passing. Check out others — from Slash, Journey, the Doobie Brothers and more — below, and make a point of seeking out some of his classic recordings today.
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