Music’s most multifaceted, rock ‘n’ roll legend Leon Russell will take the stage at Morgantown’s newest downtown concert venue Mainstage Morgantown.
Russell’s star-studded career began at the age of 15, when the young star would stand front and center on stages in the nightclubs of Tulsa, Oklahoma among peers of his band, The Starlighters. Made up of J.J. Cale, Leo Feathers, Chuck Blackwell and Johnny Williams, the group is known for combining genres of rock, country and blues. Originally known as the "Tulsa Sound," Russell’s appreciation for the unique mix of sounds allowed him to eventually become the first artist to take the "Tulsa Sound" to Los Angeles.
Leaving the small confines of Tulsa, Russell took his talents to Los Angeles to learn more about the guitar, in an attempt to break into the industry. Playing as a solo musician, Russell crossed paths with artists from Barbra Streisand, Elton John, Frank Sinatra and The Rolling Stones. Russell is also known for his gospel infused piano infusion on Bob Dylan’s famous tracks "When I Paint My Masterpiece" and "Watching the River Flow."
Russell’s track history is filled with Billboard chart toppers, backing many large artists on many of their most notable tracks. Outside of having collaborated with prominent musicians in the industry, Russell’s solo career is just as impressive, with more than 30 studio-recorded albums released from 1968 to 2014. With an iconic image, Russell’s long hair and eclectic wardrobe allowed the musician to stand out from others in the industry. In an interview with Rolling Stone, the artist stated his style symbolizes his history in the industry.
"I’m into symbolism, the long hair is symbolism, and the distance between me and the audience sometimes affects what I’m going to wear," Russell said.
"It’s kind of like the songs, nothing specific, it just is what it is."
Russell’s career in the industry has been littered with successes, awards and recognitions. The artist is also known for his companionship and mentor-like relationship with English composer and songwriter Elton John. As John’s musical hero, Russell and John released an album in 2010 titled, "The Union."
The 16-track album featured collaborations with John and Russell, as well as appearances by guitarist T Bone Burnett, producer James Timothy Shaw and poet, lyricist Bernie Taupin. "The Union" even included famed singer, songwriter Neil Young, who appeared in back-up vocals. When John and Russell took the stage at the Beacon Theatre on Broadway in the heart of New York City, the English singer took the stage to speak on behalf of his admiration for the legendary musician.
"When I started he was my idol, mentor, and everything I wanted to be as a songwriter. Tonight is very special for me."
As the two famed musicians continued to play through their two-hour long set to the sold out crowd, the two artists exchanged stage time, playing together and solo equally.
Continuing his career, Russell’s appearance at Mainstage Morgantown will be one filled with a mix of songs from the past and present.
For more information, visit http://mainstagewv.tunestub.com/.