Leon Russell, Dr. John etc.

5-9-13             Leon Russell, Dr. John etc.

On 5/9/70 The Moody Blues 45 “Question” charts at No. 2 in England.  Also on 5/9/70 The Move 45 “Brontosaurus” charts at No. 7 in England (originally issued on Regal-Zonophone, but later issued on LP on Fly Records).

Leon Russell must’ve come to Los Angeles from Oklahoma about 1963 – 1964, possibly with Delaney Bramlett; at roughly the same time that Dr. John came to Los Angeles with (arranger) Harold Battiste.  I guess all of these men knew (knew of) Phil Spector and his arranger, Jack Nitzsche.

Leon produced at least 1 x Delaney Bramlett 45 for a tiny label (“Guess I Must Be Dreamin’”), but eventually landed work at United Artists Records working with Gary Lewis & The Playboys – as an arranger; though he did later get writing credit with Gary Lewis & Co.  Eventually, I can find 45’s with Leon Russell credits at A&M Records, arranging for The Parade, a charming soft rock band (“I Can See Love”, approx. 1968) – so if Leon Russell was at A&M Records anyway, producing / arranging bands; I guess he was in the right place at the right time when the call came in that English singer Joe Cocker needed a band / arranger.

The story was always that Dr. John got to do his thing whenever the Sonny & Cher sessions were finished at their recording sessions; with Harold Battiste installed as Sonny & Cher’s arranger, it likely wasn’t a stretch that Dr. John eventually got signed by their record company, Atco Records.

No idea how Delaney Bramlett fared before bringing Bonnie Bramlett into the fold. But by 1968 or so Delaney & Bonnie got signed to Elektra Records, and, ultimately, to Atco Records.

All of these people – coming from all over the USA, living and working in Los Angeles at approximately the same time – the mind boggles!  They certainly must’ve known each other?!?!?

Leon Russell eventually hit it big as a solo act and songwriter; a feat Delanet Bramlett never accomplished.  Dr. John is now a senior statesman; his 70’s records are pretty damned good (and arranged by Harold Battiste).  Whatever happened to Harold Battiste?  (Apparently still alive; Wikipedia says he arranged “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke in the 50’s!).

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3 Responses to Leon Russell, Dr. John etc.

  1. postpunkmonk says:

    I Just recently heard “Right Place, Wrong Time” for the first time in decades and the line “Need a little brain salad surgery…” just leapt out at me. Sonnuva…!!! So that’s where they got it from. Immensely funky, that phrase got manhandled by the whitest band ever!

  2. postpunkmonk says:

    Serendipity! We just watched “Lightning In A Bottle” and Dr. John was playing keys in the big band!

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