Hall of Famer Leon Russell Dead at 74
Leon Russell, whose impact on popular music crossed genre boundaries, has passed away at the age of 74.
Russell died of undisclosed causes sometime between Saturday night (Nov. 12) and Sunday morning (Nov. 13), according to a post on his Facebook page. His wife, Jan Bridges, confirmed the news in the following statement:
We thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this very, very difficult time. 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.
Born Claude Russell Bridges on April 2, 1942 in Lawton, Okla., Russell began his career in the club scene in Tulsa at the age of 14. He worked as a session player in Los Angeles in the 1960s, playing with artists including the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones, and first gained more individual notoriety as a member of Delaney & Bonnie and Friends.
Russell went on to an exceptionally diverse career that spanned more than 30 studio albums. His more country-oriented fare included One for the Road with Willie Nelson in 1979, as well as two projects with New Grass Revival. Russell and Nelson earned a No. 1 country hit with their recording of “Heartbreak Hotel” in 1979.
He was inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011, and released what would be his final solo project, Life Journey, in 2014.
According to a report from Reuters, Russell battled a number of health problems in his later years.He underwent surgery in 2010 to stop leaking brain fluid, and he postponed a string of shows in July of 2016 after suffering a heart attack. At the time, doctors expected Russell to make a full recovery.
Funeral arrangements have not been announced.
Country Greats Who Have Died in 2016