Great Steve Roeser piece on Leon Russell’s Live In Japan—read it here first!
During the years 1970 to 1975, few artists in rock were hotter or had more going on in their music careers than Leon Russell. After having started playing piano professionally in his teens in his native Oklahoma, Leon (birth name Claude Russell Bridges) trekked out to Los Angeles by the early Sixties and soon became one of the most in-demand recording session players in Hollywood.
Very few of the many notable Phil Spector Gold Star Studio recordings do not have Leon on piano. The Beach Boys, Bobby Darin, Glen Campbell and numerous others recording in L.A. in that era benefited from Leon’s expertise on the 88s. “I was the triplet guy,” was the way he put it, summing up how he was perceived by West Coast record producers who wanted to book the piano player who would get the job done most efficiently.