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Leon Russell's career runs the musical gamut from Sinatra to the Stones, the Beach Boys and BB King. He's written some of the most-covered songs in the pop songbook, and three Stones and two Beatles performed on his debut solo record, yet he isn't a household name. Photo: Getty Images

Leon Russell’s career runs the musical gamut from Sinatra to the Stones, the Beach Boys and BB King. He’s written some of the most-covered songs in the pop songbook, and three Stones and two Beatles performed on his debut solo record, yet he isn’t a household name. Photo: Getty Images

Leon Russell has Gone Back to the Island?

Another one on the way to Rock n’ Roll Heaven

We have just lost Leonard Cohen, and now… Leon Russell.

Musician Leon Russell has died in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife said he died in his sleep.

Leon Russell is a legend. Inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, Russell made his name first as an ace session pianist before penning classic hits for himself and others. Besides his music, Russell was known for his striking appearance: wispy white hair halfway down his back and that covered much of his face. Russell played keyboard for the Los Angeles studio team known as the Wrecking Crew, helping producer Phil Spector develop his game-changing wall of sound approach in the 1960s.

He’s also a legendary character. In the 2008 documentary “The Wrecking Crew,” Cher recounts a time that Russell stumbled in late and drunk to a recording session led by legendary producer and future-convicted murderer Phil Spector.

When the insufferable Phil Spector (they were apparently recording one of Spector’s “wall of sound” productions) confronted Russell and asked him if he understood the word respect, Russell jumped on top of his piano and demanded if Spector understood the meaning of a certain two-word expletive phrase that we need not quote. According to Cher, the studio collapsed in hysterics. So, among his many other distinctions, Russell deserves special credit for standing up to one of the music industry’s most notorious jerks.

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