Column

Best I've Ever Seen

Talking with artists about concerts and albums they'll never forget

Gary Stoller is an award-winning editor, author, and journalist. He's written for USA TODAY and loves Bob Dylan and Blue Rodeo.

Best I've Ever Seen

Talking with artists about concerts and albums they'll never forget

Gary Stoller is an award-winning editor, author, and journalist. He's written for USA TODAY and loves Bob Dylan and Blue Rodeo.

Friends Remember Advice and Lessons from Leon Russell

Nice piece Gary...Leon was definitely one of the best...he could do it all..."Mad Dogs and Englishmen"...all I could think of when I read the liner notes and listened was how Leon stood out among even the greatest players on that record...a bad man...

I went to college in Tulsa in the early '70s. Leon had mostly moved to Los Angeles but was still operating his converted Church Studio, and he still visited Tulsa frequently. He was an absolute legend there, and everyone loved and respected him so much...

No doubt, though I don't know that from personal experience as you do...but his musicality is undeniable...Leon was one of those guys who was/is sort of Genre-less...they were not using "Americana" or "alt-Country" then, and you can feel so many different influences in his music, and when he played with others as well...it's all in there...Gospel, Soul, R&B, Rock, Jazz, Blues...just great music..

I love Leon Russell and those early albums up to "Carney" are some of the favorite music I own. After that his releases weren't always consistent and then as his spotlight faded it was hard to find new music my him.

I saw him in the early 70s in a huge venue with a band similar to the Mad Dogs and Englishmam band and he was a rock'n'roll god at the top of his form. Then decades later and just before Elton John re-introduced him to the world I saw him in a small tavern venue and he was still great but obviously aged and his career hurting. I bought a couple of cds from his merchant table that I had never seen in stores and he was selling online I guess. They were terrific and very much like those early albums with his great honky-tonk playing.

I also enjoyed the Elton John--Leon Russell album but his two solos after that I was very disappointed in. Too many strings! This last album I had great hopes for but I can barely listen to it because of the ochestration. It was strange to read in this post how pleased he was with that as I think the strings just detracts from his funky power. It was as if the producer kidnapped him and Perry Como-ed his sound. But I guess Leon liked it. Oh well, I still have all his other records I can listen to.