Although he was mostly known as a superstar sideman and a musical master of ceremonies, the late Leon Russell left behind a body of work that elevated him well beyond the role of support musician and session player. Russell recruited some heavy-duty associates when he launched his solo career with his eponymous debut album. Indeed, few other musicians could not only have inspired interest early on from various Beatles, Stones, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood and Joe Cocker, but then also enlist them to lend their support.
# 10 – The Ballad Of Mad Dogs & Englishmen
"If It Wasn't for Bad"
The legendary musician passed away in his sleep in Nashville on Sunday, according to a statement on his website. Leon Russell's passing has brought great sadness to the American music community, thanks to his famed contributions 'Shine a Light' and 'A Song For You'. He was a longtime hero of Sir Elton and collaborated with him on a number of occasions.
# 9 – On A Distant Shore
It was a collaborative effort with Marc Benno. In , Leon Russell released his first solo album entitled Leon Russell. While Leon Russell had already established himself as a sought after pianist, he had now graduated to the status of a brilliant songwriter and an artist to be reckoned with.
Despite his sweeping talent as a singer, songwriter and sideman, Russell remained doggedly independent and, more often than not, just as consistently in the shadows. He didn't release his first solo album until , but by then he'd already played on literally hundreds of songs as a key member of the famous Wrecking Crew session band. Tambourine Man" by the Byrds , among many others. Even after he'd found a short period of consistent recognition in the early '70s — touring with Joe Cocker 's legendary Mad Dogs and Englishmen troupe, scoring three Top 20 hit albums and stealing the show as part of George Harrison 's concert for Bangladesh — his biggest hit songs were still voiced by others. Russell would collaborate with Willie Nelson , Bruce Hornsby and Elton John in later years, but he never lost that sense of rugged individualism. Russell called himself "the wondering wanderer" in a interview with Rolling Stone , and this list of Top 10 Leon Russell songs confirms it. The opening track on Russell's second album, "Stranger in a Strange Land" is one of his very best ballads — which is no small feat. Nicking the name of a famous sci-fi novel for the song's title, Russell begins with a message about how alienation can envelop stardom — something that feels like a minor insight into his personal narrative. But as this minor-key musical journey continues to build, stirring in a prototypical blend of rock and gospel with an appropriately proggy keyboard, Russell turns to weightier subjects.