Leon Russell just passed through Seattle playing his famous gospel-blues-rock-just-plain-amazing piano at a the Tractor Tavern in Ballard. I'm mad at myself 'cause I missed him. My sister Rooney first introduced me to the blue "Leon Russell" album when it came out about 40 years ago. It had a picture of Russell on the cover looking like a mix between Jesus Christ and George Clooney and was packed with great songs like "Hummingbird," "Masters of War," and my favorite, "Delta Lady." Russell was backed by a wall of sound and a cast of a thousand friends that included people like Bonney and Delaney, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison. One of his songs was about Jesus; another was about Little Richard. It was the newest thing, and I felt "in the know."
But what did I know? Nothing. If the newest thing is worth it damn, you can bet that it probably took years to get so shiny.
Here's Leon Russell, forty FIVE years ago, looking more like Jerry Lee than Jesus, and playing classical music by our man CB...