For no other reason than…it is where I wanted to start. When I found Leon Russell and the Shelter People, I was 15 and taking in any music that was offering hard rockin’ piano playing, lead vocals that sounded like they were pushing up from the gut and finding their way out through vocal chords like a pipe bursting, complimented by a troupe of strong, upper-register seeking, chest singing females on loosely structured backing vocals. A very hard act to follow, Mr. Russell.

Still on a Beatles high, having taken Credence, Zeppelin, and Hendrix in on a cellular level, I didn’t know it until that night (some out-of-towners – Coloradans – were spinning records at a party) that this music/sound was exactly what I needed to arrive at the base of the summit I would scale in developing my own style/feel.

In November 2016, Claude Russell Bridges, Leon Russell to the music world passed at age 74. He had a revitalized career run with the “Union” record and tour with Elton John between 2009-2011. The Leon Russell testimonial that Elton John gave, on his guest spot for Elvis Costello’s Spectacle series, was one of the most moving accounts of how an artist, Elton John, was influenced in their starter years. This was my starter influence as well.

I won’t even attempt to single out a song/songs for analysis.  I can only say that this Tulsa thing is in my DNA. When/if I ever do my geneology, I know this truth will be revealed. Until then, I will let a composition speak the rest for me…

Enjoy this tune from my iTunes library.

Stranger in a Strange Land

by Leon Russell | Leon Russell and the Shelter People