Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elton John and Leon Russell: The Union

"Respect the elders. Embrace the new. Encourage the impractical and improbable, Without bias." David Fricke

I've been thinking of the forgotten lately. The artists who've pioneered creations, inventions and music. Georges Méliès with his magic visual effects on film, Big Momma Thornton and her original, soulful Hound Dog made famous by Elvis, and Leon Russell, soul master of the keyboard and song, who inspired generations of piano driven rock stars.

Elton John idolized the long haired rock legend, who made it to the top of the pop charts in the early 70's with hits like Masquerade and A Song For You. His music has been covered by The Carpenters, Ray Charles, and Peggy Lee. His star rose to such great heights, George Harrison invited him to join the band for the legendary 1971 Concert For Bangladesh.  Elton's star began to rise as Leon's made its descent into the shadows, yet he never forgot his idol.

In 2009, Elton brought Leon, fraught with health and money issues, out of retirement to collaborate on an album entitled The Union. To document this momentous project between Elton and his idol, award winning Director Cameron Crowe and Producer T. Bone Burnett were brought in to film the recording session and their performance at The Beacon Theater in New York City. The end result is the documentary of the same name -  The Union - premiering this Thursday, February 2nd on HBO.

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