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GALLERY: Leon Russell Piano Dedication & Tribute Concert


Paul Benjaman leads the band at Will Rogers High School, paying tribute to alum Leon Russell

On Sat., Feb. 9, an all-star band of Tulsa musicians paid tribute to the legendary Leon Russell at the pianist and bandleader’s alma mater, Will Rogers High School. The concert celebrated the dedication of the school’s newly-restored 1937 Baldwin grand piano, which Russell (then known as Russell Bridges) would play during lunch hour to entertain his classmates. After decades of use by students at Will Rogers—the piano was acquired when the school opened in 1939—the instrument is as good as new. 

Historian John Wooley emceed the show, which featured guitarist and singer Paul Benjaman leading a band that included Russell collaborators Ann Bell (vocals), Brian Lee (piano, vocals), Johnny Williams (saxophone), and Brandon Holder (drums). The band also included bassist Alan Ransom, keyboardists Peter de les Dernier and Corey Mauser, percussionist Frank Padilla, singers Jennifer Marriott and Wanda Watson, and guitarist and singer Pete Marriott. There were also appearances by singer and guitarist Jared Tyler, drummers David Teegarden and Billy Estes, and singer Bobby Taylor—another Will Rogers alum and leader of the 1950s rock n’ roll band Bobby Taylor and the Valentines.

  1. “Tight Rope”
  2. “Out in the Woods” w/ Jared Tyler
  3. “Prince of Peace”
  4. “Stranger in a Strange Land”
  5. “Hummingbird” ft. Jared Tyler
  6. “Roll Away the Stone” ft. Jared Tyler
  7. “Shoot Out on the Plantation” ft. Jared Tyler
  8. “This Masquerade” ft. Bobby Taylor and Johnny Williams
  9. “Superstar” ft. Ann Bell
  10. “Honky Tonk Women” ft. Ann Bell
  11. “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” ft. Ann Bell
  12. “A Song for You” ft. Brian Lee
  13. “Sweet Emily” ft. Brian Lee
  14. “Home Sweet Oklahoma”
  15. “With a Little Help from My Friends” ft. Ann Bell