NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Musician Leon Russell, a top session player in the 1960s and ’70s who later had a successful solo career with such hits as “Tight Rope” and “Lady Blue,” has died. He was 74.
An email from Leon Russell Records to The Associated Press says Russell died in Nashville on Saturday night. The email cites Russell’s wife as the source of the information. Russell had heart bypass surgery in July and was recovering from that at the time of his death.
Russell’s wife, Jan Bridges, released 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.”
Russell was primarily a keyboard player. He played back up for Joe Cocker, Bob Dylan, the Beach Boys and many other artists. John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr played on Russells’ solo debut, “Leon Russell.”
His concerts often ended with a rousing version of “Jumpin’ Jack Flash.” Billboard Magazine listed Russell as the top concert attraction in the world in 1973. He was named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011.