A songwriter, a singer, a player, a performer, and, simply, a musical force who pulled people in to his orbit and never let them go. That was Leon Russell. There’s no doubt that, even if you have never heard one of his records, you’ve heard his songs (“A Song For You” was made a soul standard by Donny Hathaway, a country standard by Willie Nelson, and a pop standard by The Carpenters), and you’ve no doubt heard his piano playing on countless hits as a member of the legendary-but-faceless studio group, The Wrecking Crew.
In 1970, he and some very talented friends showed up to the studios of LA’s PBS affiliate, KCET, and proceeded to put down the jam to end all jams. It’s an inexplicable, joyous mix of rock, country, soul, blues, storytelling, and cooking that must be seen to be believed. It’s everything you need to know about Leon Russell, and it’s worth the hour of your time to understand just we lost with his passing.