Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sir Elton to Make New Duets Album with Leon Russell

We’re always gratified to hear from a satisfied AJC subscriber. It’s even better when it’s a seven-day-a-week diehard celebrity subscriber with scoop.

After thumbing through Monday’s editions of the AJC, USA Today and The New York Times and finishing his morning tennis match, part-time Buckhead resident Sir Elton John rang the BuzzBerry to thank us for mentioning the woman who oversees his Atlanta household.

“Lucy’s over the moon that her name was in the paper this morning,” John told us, laughing.

When we inquired about the possibility of a new studio project from him (John has made no secret of his displeasure over the less-than-stellar promotion of his last album, 2006’s “The Captain and the Kid”), the singer ended up giving us an exclusive.

“I’m talking to [pianist and singer] Leon Russell and [producer] T-Bone Burnett about recording an album with Leon,” he told us.

Russell, now 67, first came on the scene as a session player for legendary producer Phil Spector in the early 1960s before embarking on a wide-ranging solo career that’s included penning modern standards like “A Song For You” and “This Masquerade.” A mesmerizing 1976 live performance of Russell recently was restored for the DVD set of “Saturday Night Live: The First Season.”

“I’ve always loved Leon, and I think it’s terrible that he’s been almost forgotten about now,” Elton added. “He’s been such an influence on my playing and his music has been such a big part of my life. It will be a duets record. I’m a huge fan, and he’s just such a great guy as well. I’m hoping it will all come together, maybe the beginning of next year. These days, I just want to focus on recording things that I really want to do, and I’ve always wanted to work with Leon.”

While we had him on the phone, we had to ask about Sir Elton’s on-stage salute to Atlanta filmmaker Tyler Perry on Saturday night.

“When his studios opened last year, I read about it in the AJC and I thought it was such an incredibly positive thing for this city. So I called to tell him that, and he ended up coming to my Oscar party this year. We got on really well. What he’s bringing to Atlanta is just incredible.”

Tonight, John is back on the plane to resume his tour with Joel in Tulsa, Okla. The tour dates run through November.

Added Elton: “This will probably be the last time that Billy and I do this together and so we’re taking it around the world. We’re having a blast together. I was thrilled we got to bring it home to Atlanta.


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