Leon Russell Passed Away in His Sleep at Home, Wife Says

GAB Archive/Redferns

Leon Russell in Australia circa 1970.

Influential songwriter and performer Leon Russell died at home in his sleep, according to his wife, Jan Bridges, who released a statement Sunday afternoon (Nov. 13) in appreciation of the outpouring of support after her husband’s passing.

“We thank everyone for their thoughts and prayers during this very, very difficult time,” she wrote.

While she did not specify his cause of death, she said, “My husband passed in his sleep in our Nashville home. He was recovering from heart surgery in July and looked forward to getting back on the road in January. We appreciate everyone’s love and support.”

Russell, born Claude Russell Bridges, passed away at the age of 74. His final live performance was in Nashville on July 10.

His remarkable resume includes recording hits like “Tight Rope” and “Lady Blue,” writing Joe Cocker's "Delta Lady" and playing on the Beach Boys' "California Girls,” as well as producing and playing on recording sessions for Bob Dylan, Frank Sinatra, the Rolling Stones and more. He started his own record label, Leon Russell Records, in the early 2000s and was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2011.

Elton John, who collaborated with Russell on the 2010 album The Union, remembered him as “a mentor, inspiration and so kind to me. He wrote on Twitter, “I loved him and always will.”

Yusuf Islam (Cat Stevens), Charlie Daniels and Steve Martin were also among the many who tweeted in honor of Russell.