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Posts Tagged ‘Bernie Taupin’

Died On This Date (November 13, 2016) Leon Russell / Legendary Musician, Songwriter & Producer

Posted by themusicsover on November 13, 2016

Leon Russell (Born Claude Russell Bridges)
April 2, 1942 – November 13, 2016

Photo by Carl Lender

Photo by Carl Lender

Leon Russell was a celebrated musician, singer, songwriter and producer whose early work as a session player alone was enough to rightfully find him a home in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Add to that his credits as a songwriter, and you have one of the most respected artists we have ever known.  Born in Oklahoma, Russell began playing the piano at just four years old.  By high school, he and schoolmate David Gates, of future Bread fame, had a band together. Over the next couple of years Russell needed a fake ID to play the clubs of Tulsa. And then, at just 16 years old, he headed to Los Angeles to take a crack at becoming a session musician. Russell quickly built a solid reputation and became one of the first people called into the studio or on stage to lend his talents.  The list of artists or their producers that mad that call is staggering – it includes the Byrds, Frank Sinatra, Bob Dylan, B.B. King, the Rolling Stones, Barbra Streisand, and the Beach Boys.  And as part of the famed Wrecking Crew of L.A. studio musicians, the list goes on. Russel’s first hit as a songwriter came by way of Joe Cocker‘s 1969 recording of his “Delta Lady.”  As the ’70s dawned, Russell began making his own albums while producing others.  And thanks in part to the success of “Delta Lady,” he became a go-to songwriter for hopeful pop and rock stars.  In 1970, he released his self-titled debut. The album spawned one of his most famous songs, “A Song For You” which has been covered by a diverse list of artists that includes Ray Charles, Zakk Wylde, Andy Williams, Herbie Hancock with Christina Aguilera, Whitney Houston, Willie Nelson, and Amy Winehouse. Russell spent the rest of the ’70s on a seemingly endless recording and touring cycle. He eventually slowed down, but became no less productive and influential.  The next three decades found him working with the likes of New Grass Revival and Bruce Hornsby while releasing several more of his own albums which leaned more bluegrass and country than much of his ’70s output. In 2010, Elton John (who called Russell his biggest influence as a pianist, singer and songwriter) and Bernie Taupin partnered with Russell on The Union, which resulted in a return-to-the-charts for both. The outstanding album, produced by T-Bone Burnett, and credited equally to both John and Taupin, entered the Billboard charts at No. 3, Russell’s highest charting album since 1972 and John’s highest since 1976.  Rolling Stone called it one of the best 30 albums of 2010.  The new-found exposure for Russell found him touring heavily up through the first half of 2016 when a heart attack sidelined him. Not discouraged, plans were being made to hit the road again in 2017.  Unfortunately, while still recovering from the heart attack, Leon Russell died quietly in his sleep on November 14, 2016.  He was 74.


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Died On This Date (March 12, 2010) Lesley Duncan / British Singer-Songwriter

Posted by themusicsover on March 12, 2010

Lesley Duncan
August 12, 1943 – March 12, 2010

lesley-duncanLesley Duncan was a moderately successful English folk singer during the late ’60s and ’70s.  After working on her own during the early part of her career, Duncan hooked up with Elton John in 1970 to sing a duet of her “Love Song” which appeared on his Tumbleweed Connection album.  It remains one of just a handful of songs John recorded that was penned by someone outside of his and Bernie Taupin’s creative circle.  Duncan went on to provide backing vocals on such albums as John’s Madman Across The Water, Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon and the Alan Parsons Project’s Eve.  During the ’70s, she lent her vocal talents to recordings by Dusty Springfield, among many others.  Lesley Duncan was 66 when she died on March 12, 2010 of causes believed to be related to cerebrovascular disease.

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Died On This Date (February 1, 1986) Dick James / Established The Beatles’ Publishing Company

Posted by themusicsover on February 1, 2010

Dick James (Born Reginald Vapnick)
December 12, 1920 – February 1, 1986

George Martin, Dick James, Brian Epstein

L-R: George Martin, Dick James, Brian Epstein

Dick James was a London-born aspiring singer and musician who eventually owned his own record label and publishing company.  Partnering with John Lennon and Paul McCartney in 1963,  James formed Northern Songs to publish Lennon and McCartney’s music.  George Harrison and Ringo Starr were signed on for a shot period as well.  Gerry & the Pacemakers and Billy J. Kramer were also published by Northern Songs during the ’60s.  In 1968, James sold the publishing company without offering the Beatles a chance to purchase their own catalog.  This apparently drove a deep wedge between James and the group since they never again owned the rights to their own songs.  During the ’70s, James established DJM Records, where he released the first recordings of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.  Dick James was 65 when he died of a heart attack on February 1, 1986.

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Died On This Date (October 8, 2007) Nicky James / ’60s British Rocker

Posted by themusicsover on October 8, 2009

Nicky James (Born Michael Nicholls)
April, 1943 – October 8, 2007

NickyjamesNicky James was a British singer-songwriter whose career began in the early ’60s when he formed the Lawmen.  In 1963, he joined forces with Denny Laine in a band they called Nicky James with Denny and the Diplomats.   He was in and out of the band over the next few years, and was gone for good just before they changed their name to the Moody Blues and got signed to Decca Records.  James soon signed to Columbia Records with his Nicky James Movement, a band that would be the early home to such  pre-fame musicians as John Bonham, and Bev Bevans.   In 1966, James worked as a talent scout for Dick James Music where he signed the young songwriting team of Elton John and Bernie Taupin.  As a songwriter, James collaborated with Allan Clarke and Graham Nash.  On October 8, 2007, Nicky James died of a brain tumor at the age of 64.

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