“To the thieves,” he says on his 1972 album Carney, “I am a bandit; the mothers think I’m a son. To the preachers, I’m a sinner; Lord, I’m not the only one.”
The man in the “Magic Mirror” has been many things to many people. To his friends and neighbors in Lawton in the early 1940s, he was Claude Russell Bridges; to a kid growing up in Maple Ridge in the early 1970s, he was an idol. To a host of rock legends, from Bob Dylan to Tina Turner, he’s a talented session musician; to Elton John, he’s a musical hero who eventually became a collaborator on the 2010 album The Union.
And to the interior designers responsible for the dazzling 2011 renovation of The Campbell Hotel, he’s the Muse who inspired Room 214.
Ladies and gentlemen: Leon Russell.
Born in Lawton, Leon Russell is a 1959 graduate of Will Rogers High School and a 2011 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. He began playing Tulsa nightclubs at age 14 and helped pioneer the Tulsa Sound. Working first as a session musician and then a songwriter and arranger, Russell eventually became a solo artist, releasing his first album, Leon Russell, in 1970.
The album included “A Song for You,” which has since been covered by everybody from Ray Charles to Amy Winehouse. Helen Reddy recorded it; so did Willie Nelson.
With the line, “I love you in a place where there’s no space and time,” the song gave Russell his nickname, “The Master of Space and Time.” Anyone who’s seen him walk onstage with the spotlight gleaming on his flowing white hair and beard, looking like a rock-and-roll shaman, can be forgiven for wondering whether he might actually possess some mystical power that transcends his command of keyboard and guitar.
In addition to his diploma from Will Rogers and his performances in clubs around the area, Russell’s Tulsa ties include the Church Recording Studio at Third and Trenton, which he owned in the 1960s and 1970s, and his annual birthday concert at the Brady Theater.
Here at The Campbell Hotel, we tip our top hat to the Master of Space and Time in Room 214, where posters, signed album covers, and a stunning portrait of Russell grace the walls, and a bed with a headboard shaped like the lid of a grand piano sits atop a piano-shaped rug.
Take a look:
If you’d like to spend an evening in the Leon Russell room — or any of our other unique Tulsa-themed rooms — give us a call at (918) 744-5500 or visit www.thecampbellhotel.com for reservations.