Live: Leon Russell

Legendary rock/country/R&B pianist and singer/songwriter Leon Russell played San Diego on Oct. 25 to a sold-out Belly Up crowd.

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Tom Zizzi
One of the greatest singer/songwriters of our time, Leon Russell stopped off in San Diego on Oct. 25.
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Tom Zizzi
The legendary country/blues/R&B/rock pianist set his sights on the Belly Up Tavern in Solana Beach.
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The sold-out crowd was enthralled the entire time.
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Russell has a reputation for being a man of few words these days, but he was talking a lot in between songs at the show.
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Tom Zizzi
At one point, the standing-room crowd listened intently as he talked about being in the studio to play piano with B. B. King.
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Of course, an upbeat performance of that tune, "Hummingbird," immediately followed.
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Afterward, Mr. Russell told the story of "the top hat."
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In 1969, just before Russell went on the road with Joe Cocker, Gram Parsons -- of the the Flying Burrito Brothers -- gave him a green silk top hat, which Russell wore with pride.
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One day the hat got sat on and, having lost its shape, slowly started to come undone from the inside out.
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Tom Zizzi
Someone noticed that there was a label inside. Leon told the Belly Up crowd that the label said: "'Al Jolson, 1938 the Jazz Singer.' I was in tall cotton there for a while.”
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Tom Zizzi
His fans laughed and applauded.
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Russell’s 90-minute show included "Stranger in Strange Land," "Delta Lady," "Tightrope," "Back to the Island" and a few covers -- all executed in high style with the assistance of his three-piece band.
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