Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell has died in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife, Jan, said through an intermediary that the legendary musician and songwriter had died Sunday in his sleep in Nashville.
Russell "had heart bypass surgery in July and was recovering from that," his record company tells NPR in confirming Russell's death. The musician had been hoping to resume touring in January.
A native of Oklahoma, Russell's talents — and his unique ability to span country and gospel, blues and rock — led him to collaborate with many of the finest musicians of the past 50 years, from Joe Cocker and B.B. King to Elton John and Willie Nelson.
Russell was inducted into the Songwriter's Hall of Fame in 2011, and the range of people who recorded his music reflected the breadth of his ability.
His hit songs include "This Masquerade" — which was recorded by both George Benson and The Carpenters — and "Superstar," written with Bonnie Bramlett. Others included "Tight Rope," "Delta Lady" and "A Song For You" — which was recorded by both Andy Williams and Ray Charles.