Leon Russell Memorials Held in Oklahoma and Tenn.

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An undated photo of Leon Russell, that accompanied Herb Alpert's tribute post on Facebook

An undated photo of Leon Russell, that accompanied Herb Alpert’s tribute post on Facebook

Leon Russell, who died near his home in Nashville on Nov. 13, was laid to rest Sunday (Nov. 20) in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the state where he was born in 1942.

According to a report in the Tulsa World, “Thousands packed into the Mabee Center auditorium, with a casket under the spotlight, radiating light off the white flowers and Russell’s classic white cowboy hat. A city proclamation to declare Sunday Leon Russell Day was presented to Russell’s family, including wife Jan Bridges, who hugged her loved ones as the proclamation was read.”

Related: Other friends and colleagues remember Russell

The article further stated, “Along with stories about Russell’s life from [promoter Jim] Halsey and others who worked closely with Russell, performances of ‘Home Sweet Oklahoma’ by John Fullbright and ‘A Song for You’ by Taylor Hanson led the crowd to bob their heads in rhythm as many wiped away a tear. Russell’s band for the past several years of extensive touring joined them on stage, including Jack Wessel and Tulsa natives Beau Charron and Brandon Holder.”

Bruce Hornsby, fellow pianist-singer-songwriter who once produced an album for Russell, was among those in attendance. Hornsby is quoted as saying, “The way that guy could groove, he was a human metronome,” Hornsby said. “It was a great goal of his: He wanted to write songs for the Great American Songbook.”

Related: Read an interview with Russell

Meanwhile, last Friday (Nov. 18), a separate memorial was held for Russell, in Mt. Juliet, Tennessee. There, more friends and family, including singer Claudia Lennear, gathered to pay tribute and share Russell stories. According to an article in The Tennesseean, Lennear said, “Leon and the influence he’s had on me …has just been the fabric of my life since the ’70s, and something I will always cherish, will always remember, and will eternally be grateful to Leon for his wonderful music, his great leadership…I can only say ‘thank God for Leon Russell,’ and may he rest in peace.”

A letter from Elton John, who recorded a duets album with Russell, The Union, was read. In it, John said, “I can’t imagine a world without Leon’s music…He was everything I wanted to be as a pianist, vocalist and writer.”

Watch Leon Russell talk about his days as part of the famed Wrecking Crew group of musicians

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