Leon Russell has had so much success as a songwriter and producer, it's easy to forget that he scored hits as a solo artist. Tight Rope was the biggest of these hits in 1972. He was born Claude Russell Bridges Apr. 2, 1942 Lawton, OK and grew up in Tulsa. As a teen, his band The Starlighters played local clubs. After graduating high school, Russell moved to Los Angeles and was part of the studio musician collective known as The Wrecking Crew. while working for producer Snuff Garrett, Russell had his earliest success writing and producing Gary Lewis & The Playboys. He co-wrote the 1965 top five hit Everybody Loves A Clown. By the late 60s, Russell toured with Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, George Harrison and Joe Cocker. Then he formed his own label Shelter Records with producer Denny Cordell. Among those who recorded for Shelter were JJ Cale, The Gap Band, Freddie King and Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. Russell also recorded his 1970 solo album Leon Russell. He didn't have any hits but A Song For You was a monster hit for The Carpenters. Tight Rope was on Russell's second album Carney. It reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100. Russell also recorded as country singer Hank Wilson and with his wife Mary McCreary. His song This Masquerade which was the B side of Tight Rope was a smash hit for George Benson in 1975. Russell had success in 1979 recording with Willie Nelson. And after a couple of years touring with his bluegrass band New Grass Revival, Russell drifted into obscurity for the 80s and 90s. This comp on The Right Stuff is a good intro to Russell's music. Elton John sought him to record the 2010 CD The Union. Despite health problems, the album and subsequent tour was a huge success. Leon Russell is back. Russell's latest CD Life Journey was released Apr. 2014 and he is currently on tour. Here's Leon Russell performing Tight Rope from the 2002 DVD A Song For You.