It’s difficult to know how to categorize Leon Russell.
He wrote a large number of hit records during his career, including (but certainly not limited to) Everybody Loves A Clown, She’s Just My Style, Delta Lady, Superstar, A Song For You, and This Masquerade.
He worked as a session musician appearing on countless hit records playing piano, keyboards, guitar, xylophone, and harpsichord. He also arranged and produced records.
In 1970, he organized and led the Mad Dogs And Englishmen tour.
While he had only a few hit singles, he released six gold albums.
Leon recorded his last top forty single on the Hot 100 in 1975. His single of Lady Blue reached #14 that year. Two more singles followed in 1976, but they only reached #53 and #52.
Earlier in his career, Leon recorded and released an album using the pseudonym Hank Wilson. He was no doubt exposed to Country music in the fifties and early sixties while he was growing up in Tulsa, and felt the need to lean into Country. It was an album of Country songs, and three singles from the album touched either the Hot 100 or the Country charts. Leon briefly toured with Willie Nelson and in 1979 they released a single. The duet was a cover of the Elvis tune, Heartbreak Hotel. The single reached #1 on the Country charts that year and was nominated for a Grammy award. He later won a Grammy award for a Country instrumental version of Foggy Mountain Breakdown in 2001.
Leon was inducted into both the Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. He died at the age of 74 after complications from a heart attack in 2016.
My latest book has articles with music history and trivia for more oldies that the radio doesn’t seem to play and includes links to over 150 videos as well: