Leon Russell | Spotlight | Indy Week
Pin It

Leon Russell 

Moody spacemaster

Leon Russell has built a career on being an enigmatic figure. It worked pretty well for him onstage, but dealing with the self-styled "Master of Space and Time" on a daily basis could be a bit much, as Russell's former road manager Jack Jordan can attest. Jordan, now a realtor in Hillsborough, was on the road with Russell from 1980-82. "I would be backstage and he would want me to be watching for him in case he needed something," Jordan says. "He'd always wear these big sunglasses when he played." During one show, Russell was having mike problems. "It wasn't broke, but it wasn't just right and you couldn't tell exactly what he wanted, it wasn't that obvious." After the show, Russell told his road manager just what he expected of him. "Dammit, when I look at you, I want you to know what I'm thinking."

Leon Russell was a very big deal in the early '70s--a composer and arranger as well as an in-demand session pianist, playing with Dylan, Clapton, B.B. King and the Stones. His arranging credits include the Byrds' "Mr. Tambourine Man." He wrote Joe Cocker's first big hit, "Delta Lady," and arranged the Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour that made Cocker a star. He became a star himself with '72's Carny, which spawned his biggest hit, "Tight Rope." Russell also took on country with '73's Hank Wilson's Back, covering classic country from Lester Flatt to Hank Williams.

Jordan worked for Russell when Newgrass Revival was touring with him for the second time. The band had opened for Russell once before in '73, after he had heard them playing one of his songs at a sound check in a bar in Europe. This time around, Russell wanted to play with them. "That went good for a couple of years until Newgrass was getting a better response," Jordan says. Russell started wanting to do all their best songs in his set. But when he wanted to do Newgrass' signature tune, "A Good Woman's Love," Curtis Burch and Courtney Johnson said no. The disagreement broke up the band.

Eventually, Russell's star began to fade. "I remember one time he told me, 'I feel like I started at the top and I'm working my way down,'" Jordan says.

Russell dropped out of music in '85, resurfacing in '92 with a Bruce Hornsby-produced record.

Lately, he's been touring with a five-piece band and playing around 200 dates a year. He's got a barrel full of material and still plays a mean piano. But Jordan probably won't be going to the show. "I think the world of him but there ain't no love lost there," he says.

Leon Russell plays The Pour House Friday, Oct. 15 at 9 p.m. Tickets are $18 in advance, $20 at the door.

  • Moody spacemaster

Latest in Spotlight

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Spotlight



Twitter Activity

Most Recent Comments

i love WXYC, except fpr the low power, hillsborough hardley gets it, metaphorically speaking. the sound quality is horrible. can …

by peterhoyt on Uncle Woody Sullender (Spotlight)

almost as good a my son, nique

by peterhoyt on Uncle Woody Sullender (Spotlight)

Juliette Lewis is such a great actress but shes an even more amazing singer! I am so excited she is …

by Gerard on Juliette & the Licks (Spotlight)

We the House Of God Church (Keith Dominion)in Fayetteville,NC is having a Gospel Fest for our Y.F.F.U. Dept. in August. …

by yvette 58 on The Campbell Brothers (Spotlight)

This man, as well as Jasper were very talented. They took there handicap, and made a living out of it.They …

by babyboo on Skeeter Brandon (Spotlight)

Comments

i love WXYC, except fpr the low power, hillsborough hardley gets it, metaphorically speaking. the sound quality is horrible. can …

by peterhoyt on Uncle Woody Sullender (Spotlight)

almost as good a my son, nique

by peterhoyt on Uncle Woody Sullender (Spotlight)

Most Read

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…

© 2016 Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation