‘Tell Tchaikovsky The News . . .’

Originally posted February 7, 2007

Ah, Leon Russell! Before the beard and mustache, before the long hair and the funky hat and clothes, before he met Joe Cocker and went with him on the Mad Dogs & Englishmen tour, before he became enough of a star that just the sound of his voice, his Oklahoma drawl, brought an ovation at the Concert for Bangla Desh, before all that, Leon Russell was one of the great session men.

His list of credits at All-Music Guide is extraordinary and probably not complete: He was part of Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound, and he also worked on sessions for Jan & Dean and Chris Montez, for a whole slew of lost groups like the Del-Fi Hotrodders, the Knights, the Eliminators and the Super Stocks. He worked with Pat and Lolly Vegas, Bobby Vee, Gene Clark and the Monkees on his way to working with Joe Cocker, the Rolling Stones, Dave Mason, Eric Clapton, B.B. King and Bob Dylan during the late 1960s and into the 1970s. His fame waned a little as the 1980s came, but Leon continues to make music, on his own and with others.

And here he is, during the session days (in 1964, according to the notes), during what appears to be a television appearance, performing a jumping version of “Roll Over, Beethoven.” (I’ve done some minor digging without finding any more information about the clip; does anyone out there know any more?)*

*As readers informed me when an unannotated version of this video was originally posted – and as this replacement version of the video makes clear – the performance is from an episode of the ABC television show Shindig! The episode aired November 18, 1964. Note added June 11, 2011.

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