Classic Clips: Leon Russell, Willie Nelson, Maria Muldaur, Bonnie Raitt – 1979

An early glimpse of Paradise on a 1920’s blues standard from Burbank, California.

Leon Russell, as well as being one of the founding fathers of what came to be called americana, was also a major innovator in the music business. He was one of the first artists to establish a functioning, as opposed to vanity, record label with Shelter Records, he helped pioneer the use of synthesizers and supported the development of the Linn Drum Machine. In 1976 he established his second label, Paradise Records, with the intention of moving into multimedia as he had spotted video as the next big trend. Paradise Studios were located on an industrial estate in Burbank, California, and included two sound stages and a TV production stage, plus there was also a tour-bus-based sound and TV mobile recording studio. In 1979, Leon Russell was feeling the financial pressure of a divorce from his first wife, Mary. To help out, his friend Willie Nelson, who at the time was at his own peak of popularity and had toured recently with Leon, agreed to record a television special to bring in some much-needed cash.  This show also produced the Willie Nelson and Leon Russell double album ‘One For The Road’ released by Willie’s then record label, Columbia Records. The show included live versions of old country songs and standards played by a mix of Willie and Leon’s bands. While the recording did not represent any earth-shattering musical developments, the music played was fun and lively in a laidback way and a little rough around the edges. One of the highlight tracks from the show was ‘Trouble In Mind’, a blues standard originally written in 1924, that also featured the talents of Maria Muldaur on vocals and Bonnie Raitt on slide guitar. In the clip, you will catch a glimpse of harmonica legend Mickey Raphael. Sit down and relax, as you watch and listen to a little bit of Paradise, 1979 style, with a group of musicians just playing for the sheer fun of it.


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About Martin Johnson 148 Articles
I've been a music obsessive for more years than I care to admit to. Part of my enjoyment from music comes from discovering new sounds and artists while continuing to explore the roots of American 20th century music that has impacted the whole of world culture.

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