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ROLLING AWAY THE STONE: Elton explained how much he’d idolized Russell, the Oklahoma-born pianist, singer, songwriter and producer who had toiled for years as a highly regarded L.A. session player before stepping forward in the late-’60s and early '70s. During that time, he served as bandleader for Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen and George Harrison’s Concert for Bangladesh, while also co-founding Shelter Records with the late Denny Cordell. “All I wanted for Leon,” John said, “is to have, in his later life, the accolades that seem to have been missing for him in the last 35 years. I want his name written in stone. I want him in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I want his name to be on everybody’s lips again, like it used to be. So we made this record.” Russell had undergone a 5-hour brain surgery operation to relieve a chronic condition shortly before the sessions began. (7/23a)

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