Today marks four years since the legendary Leon Russell died. Russell was a singular talent. He possessed a unique voice and although he often covered other artists — putting his own spin on now classic tunes — his songwriting was profound and in high demand. Russell was also one of the funkiest piano players around as well as a multi-instrumentalist. Additionally, he was a gifted bandleader and producer.
Leon’s distinctive musical style caught the attention of many of his peers, recording and playing with artists such as Geroge Harrison, Eric Clapton, The Beach Boys, Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones and many more. Leon also enlisted New Grass Revival to back him up in the early 1980s. Elton John counted Russell as a mentor and the two pianists recorded an album together in 2010, The Union.
Russell released his self-titled debut solo album in Spring 1970. At the end of that year, Leon Russell And Friends appeared on a public television program filmed from the Homewood studios at the Los Angeles PBS affiliate KCET. Russell’s band for The Homewood Sessions included Chuck Blackwell, Joey Cooper, John Gallie, Claudia Lennear, Kathi McDonald, Don Preston and Furry Lewis.
Leon Russell And Friends proceeded to deliver an intimate — Russell’s traveling secretary Emily baked a cake throughout the performance — funky throwdown that kicked off with the gospel “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.” The set included covers from Van Morrison (a mostly instrumental version of “Caravan”), Bob Dylan (“It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry)” and The Rolling Stones (“Honky Tonk Women”). The set also contained stellar Russell originals like “A Song For You,” “Sweet Emily,” “Crystal Closet Queen” and to close things out, a rowdy “Of Thee I Sing.”
To remember Leon Russell, watch his entire Homewood Sessions via retrofan01 below for this edition of Full Show Friday:
Setlist & Times:
- 03:20 – Will The Circle Be Unbroken
- 06:30 – Caravan
- 09:28 – It Takes A Lot To Laugh, It Takes A Train To Cry
- 14:49 – Delta Lady
- 19:50 – A Song For You
- 24:10 – Good Morning Judge
- 27:55 – John Henry
- 30:38 – Furry’s Blues
- 33:10 – Amos Burke
- 36:03 – Honky Tonk Women
- 39:29 – Sweet Emily
- 42:53 – Prince Of Peace
- 46:22 – Girl From The North Country
- 49:13 – Big Boss Man
- 52:14 – Crystal Closet Queen
- 55:19 – Of Thee I Sing