Leon and collaborator Elton John.

Leon and recent collaborator Elton John.

Legendary rock icon, Leon Russell will be performing in a free concert at Rockefeller Park as part of the River to River Festival, presented by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in-part with the Battery Park City Authority on July 10th.

Russell was honored with induction with a 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. For nearly seven decades, Russell has recorded and toured with such luminous artists as Elton John, Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles.


Russell, here in his early years, was an astounding session musician before reaching his full potential.

Russell’s music transcends a variety of genres like country, blues and rock. After beginning his career as a musician at the age of 14, he perfected his guitar playing under the tutelage of legendary artist,  James Burton, who played with the likes of Elvis Presley.

Developing a  reputation as a top session musician, Russell would diversify his abilities throughout the ’60s, playing piano with “The Wrecking Crew” on the 1964 t.v. show, T.A.M.I. Show, writing or co-writing on two hit songs for Gary Lewis and Playboys, “Everybody Loves a Clown” and “She’s Just My Style,” and even playing the xylophone and bells on the 1966 single “The Joker Went Wild” sung by Brian Hyland.

1971 was a career year for the jack-of-all-trades.

Having achieved commercial success as a songwriter on the Joe Cocker song, “Delta Lady” in 1969, Russell would release his first solo, self-titled album and one of his biggest hits to date, “A Song For You.”

At the invitation of The Beatles’ George Harrison, Russell played piano on Badfinger’s third album, Straight Up. He also stole the show as a feature performer at The Concert for Bangladesh, organized by Harrison and Ravi Shankar to raise international awareness and fund relief efforts for refugees from East Pakistan following the 1970 Bhola cyclone at Madison Square Garden in the summer of 1971. Russell performed “Jumpin Jack Flash”, “Young Blood” and sang a verse on Harrison’s “Beware of Darkness.” Russell and Harrison also backed up Bob Dylan’s for a set of the iconic songwriter’s hits.

The duo of Russell and Harrison complement Bob Dylan here at the Concert for Bangladesh.

The duo of Russell and Harrison complement Bob Dylan here at the Concert for Bangladesh.

That same year, Russell played on recording sessions with Eric Clapton and B.B. King.

Most recently in 2009, Elton John sought out Russell when they recorded a double album, The Union, that was released on October 19, 2010. The iconic duo set out on a tour to promote the new album at the time of the release with their first stop being the Beacon Theatre in NYC.

Come see one of the best musicians of all-time and an important staple in the history of Rock and Roll when Leon Russell rocks the stage at Rockefeller Park at 7pm on July 10th!

For more information about the show, go to: http://www.rivertorivernyc.com/artists/leon-russell/

– Brad Popkin