Alibi V.13 No.39 • Sept 23-29, 2004 

Music Magnified

Leon Russell

Leon Russell
Leon Russell

Saturday, Sept. 25; El Rey Theater (21 and over, 9 p.m.): As a member of “The Wrecking Crew,” producer/alleged murderer Phil Spector's legendary session band, Leon Russell contributed heavily to some of rock music's earliest and most enduring gems, recording with and writing songs for everyone from the Beach Boys to Ike and Tina Turner before scoring his first hit with Joe Cocker's version of “Delta Lady.” The same year, 1970, Russell released his own eponymously-titled debut album, introducing rock listeners to an idiosyncratic blend of swamp boogie, blues, country and southern-fried rock that would later make bands like the Doobie Brothers household names.

Best known for tunes like “A Song for You,” “Tight Rope,” “Lady Blue,” “Bluebird” and the aforementioned “Delta Lady,” as well as for his bluegrass tour-a-thon with New Grass Revival and collaborations with artists such as Willie Nelson, Russell is a rare legend in his own time. The kid from Lawton, Okla., who began writing some of rock's most memorable songs at age 14 is still going strong at 63, and as his trademark rasp seasons, Russell just seems to get better and better.