Leon Russell Dead at 74
Country-rock musician Leon Russell has died. He was 74.
According to a post on Russell's official Facebook page, Russell died in his sleep sometime Saturday night (Nov. 12) or Sunday morning (Nov. 13) in Nashville. The news was reported by his wife, Janet Lee "Jan" Constantine Bridges, to whom Russell had been married since 1983.
“We thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this very, very difficult time," Jan Bridges says in a press release. "My husband passed in his sleep in our Nashville home. He was recovering from heart surgery in July and looked forward to getting back on the road in January. We appreciate everyone’s love and support.”
Born Claude Russell Bridges on April 2, 1942, Russell was a native of Lawton, Okla., and got his start playing in clubs in Tulsa at the age of 14. He moved to Los Angeles and, in the 1960s, worked as a session musician with artists such as the Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and the Rolling Stones. His first big break came as a member of the rock / soul ensemble Delaney & Bonnie and Friends.
As an artist, Russell released more than 30 studio albums, including One for the Road with Willie Nelson in 1979, two projects with New Grass Revival and a 2002 record, Moonlight & Love Songs, with the Nashville Symphony. In 1979, Russell and Nelson scored a No. 1 country hit with their rendition of “Heartbreak Hotel.” He released his final solo album, Life Journey, in 2014, and his last performance occurred in Nashville on July 10.
In July, Russell postponed a series of shows after suffering a heart attack; however, he was expected to make a full recovery. Reuters reports that Russell had to deal with a number of health problems in recent years, including a 2010 surgery to stop leaking brain fluid.
Russell was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011; he was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame that same year.
Funeral arrangements for Russell have yet to be announced.
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