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From The You Never Know What You'll find File (Brother Leon)


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CLAUDE RUSSELL BRIDGES (aka Leon Russell) was born in Lawton, Oklahoma, April 2, 1942, and began playing the piano at the age of four. He began his musical career at the age of 14 in the nightclubs of Tulsa and was instrumental in creating the style of music known as the "Tulsa Sound." He took the name Leon Russell from a friend who lent him an ID to get into clubs, where he was legally too young to perform. Upon graduation from Will Rogers in 1959, he moved to Los Angeles where, as a first-call studio musician, he played piano with the Wrecking Crew, an informal name for the top L.A. session musicians of the '60s. He can be heard on many of the most popular songs of that era. He moved back to Tulsa where he opened The Church Studio, home to Shelter Records, bringing top artists to record from 1972-76. He then moved back to Los Angeles and later to suburban Nashville, where he died quietly in his sleep on Nov. 13, 2016, at age 74. He is interred at Memorial Park Cemetery in Tulsa.

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