This multimedia event traces the life of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell, from his family’s earliest roots and his birth in 1942, through his first musical influences and accomplishments that led him from his future home of Tulsa, Oklahoma to Los Angeles, where he became a key player in the Hollywood session scene, and his eventual rise as an international performing artist, songwriter, and master of rock piano. The lecture will include a mixture of photos of Russell throughout his life (including many never-before-seen photos) as well as a vast selection of music sound-bites from Russell’s career, with special emphasis on his Hollywood session years. This multimedia event will allow the audience to see and hear the evolution of Russell’s skills as a keyboard player, arranger, producer and songwriter, and their lasting influence on popular music.
ABOUT THE SPEAKER:
Steve Todoroff is a Tulsa native who first heard about Russell as a pre-teen in 1965. After Russell emerged as a solo artist in 1970, Todoroff began to research Russell’s musical past, and began a labor of love researching the session activity of Russell, which included contacting the Musicians Union Local 47 in Hollywood to access the actual session contracts from 1962 through 1970. From this research Todoroff was able to identify and assemble the hundreds of LPs and 45s where Russell’s musicianship appeared either as a keyboard whiz, arranger, songwriter, and producer. He has written various articles on Russell and the Tulsa music scene, was a consultant on Cameron Crowe’s “The Union” documentary that covered the musical reunion of Russell with Sir Elton John, and his research material was used to prep Sir Elton for his induction speech to induct Russell into the Rock N Roll Hall of Fame in 2011. He and his writing partner John Wooley just finished compiling and annotating Russell’s autobiography, “Leon Russell In His Own Words (With A Little Help From His Friends), due to be published in 2018. In 2012, Todoroff and his wife Kathy donated their 40+ year collection of Leon Russell-related material to the upcoming Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP) in Tulsa, where it will be exhibited and used for research. He currently resides in Houston, Texas.