By Teresa Knox | June 22, 2018

By Steve Todoroff It’s a late September night at the Sunset Grill, a combination cafe/night club in Tulsa where eager fans begin to cram themselves around tables near the vicinity of the dance floor. As they mingle about, a party-like atmosphere maintains them until that moment the band squeezes onto the tiny stage and starts pumping out a beat that will somehow get everyone moving, though by show time there will hardly be room enough to breathe. Ace drummer David Teegarden takes the stage first, double checking his drum setup. He’s shortly followed by bass player Gary Cundiff, who likewise…

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By Teresa Knox | April 21, 2018

There comes a time in life when one is moved to reflect upon major events in his or her life as old friends, relatives, family members “cash in their chips” and depart the game of life. As the days, months and years come and go, the hectic responsibilities of life take the greater majority of a person’s time to give much thought to details of a full Christian life being lived.  When the Lord has given a person four score and more years of life, each remaining day becomes more precious.  And so it is, as I take time to…

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Leon, J.J., and the Super Dupers

By Teresa Knox | April 11, 2018

Having grown tired of the fourteen-hour days in the recording studio playing on other people’s records, Leon Russell decided in 1965 to work for legendary producer Snuff Garrett, who was starting his own independent production company and record label, Viva Records. Snuff hustled the business and Russell handled the production chores, which included arranging, producing songwriting, and sometimes as a musician. Along with his considerable talents, Russell also brought along fellow Tulsan J.J. Cale, who along with his own list of talents, also acted as chief studio engineer. Building on the success of a cartoon character record that Garrett, Russell…

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6 Things You Might Not Know About Leon Russell’s “A Song For You”

By Teresa Knox | March 14, 2018

Leon Russell’s 1970 instant classic “A Song For You,” a mainstay on all reality singing competition shows, and a song that has been recorded by scores of prominent recording artists (and hundreds of not-so-prominent), was recently voted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. Russell originally released the song on his 1970 debut solo album on Shelter Records, an independent label he co-founded with then-partner, record producer Denny Cordell. Here are a few things you might not know about one of Russell’s best-known compositions, and a song he performed at each show, usually as a solo spotlight song, till his passing…

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By Teresa Knox | September 19, 2017

  Less than a year after the devastating passing of Leon Russell, The Church Studio has earned a respected, unique and highly desired designation to the National Register of Historic Places. The designation became effective Sept. 8, 2017 as reported by the National Park Service. Although it wasn’t certain, It was expected after its National Register detailed submission to Washington was reported in July, outlining the significance of the studio to American music culture. Furthermore, there was overwhelming support by the state officials of Oklahoma and all of the friends and fans of Leon, including the special group, “Leon Lifers.”…

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The Making of Leon Russell Road

By The Church Studio | January 9, 2017

  I drove by The Church Studio on Third Street one morning in 2006 and found that its then-owner, musician Steve Ripley, had a hand-made “For Sale” sign stuck in the yard of the legendary recording studio he had owned for the last 20+ years. He had written his cell phone number on the sign. As a musician and fan of the studio, I put my car in park outside of the building and dialed the number on my cell. Ripley answered. I said I was outside and would love to see inside. He said, “I’m here. Come on up.”…

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History of Shelter Records

By The Church Studio | December 30, 2016

Shelter Records was started by Leon Russell and Denny Cordell.  The label operated from 1969 to 1981. The company established offices in Los Angeles and in 1972; set up in Tulsa, Oklahoma at The Church Studio.  In Tulsa, the label’s mission was to foster an environment described as a “workshop atmosphere” with a recording studio in the converted church. Leon also purchased adjoining and nearby houses for artists working at the studio, to be used as crash pads between sessions. Leon remained with Shelter until 1976, when he and Cordell decided to part ways. In addition to Russell, the label…

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Remembering Leon Russell

By The Church Studio | November 15, 2016

Leon Russell was born Claude Russell Bridges on April 2, 1942 in Lawton, Oklahoma.  Leon passed away on Nov. 13, 2016 in Nashville at the age of 74.  His wife said that he passed away in his sleep.  Russell’s website wrote. “The Master Of Space And Time was a legendary musician and songwriter originally from Tulsa, Oklahoma who performed his gospel-infused southern boogie piano rock, blues, and country music for over 50 years.” All across the world;  friends, family, celebrities and other musicians expressed their condolences.  Below are just a few…   My darling Leon Russell passed away last night.…

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