Leon Russell


The man Billboard Magazine named “World’s Top Promotion Man,” Pete Bennett, 77, died suddenly of a heart attack Thanksgiving day in Connecticut.

Bennett, born in the Bronx, NY is credited for propelling the careers of the Beatles, Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, The Who, Simon and Garfunkel, James Taylor and many others.

Described by Paul McCartney as “the promotion man responsible for getting the Beatles on the radio,” Bennett was named Director of Promotion for the Beatles’ Apple Records label in 1968. After the break-up of the group, Bennett guided the promotional efforts to radio for the solo releases by John Lennon, Ringo Starr, George Harrison and McCartney.

Over the years in interviews when Bennett was asked why his services were in such demand, he would say “I make unknowns into stars and stars into superstars.”

Among his many legendary achievements, Bennett, working side-by-side with Harrison, produced the world’s first global charity event, “The Concert for Bangladesh,” at Madison Square Garden in 1971. The former Beatle requested Bennett to use his clout and relationships to secure some of the biggest rock stars of the time, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Ringo Starr, Leon Russell and Billy Preston.

In 1975 when Michael Jackson and his brothers were looking to leave Motown Records, Bennett orchestrated a deal to bring the Jacksons to Epic Records

Well known for his eye for talent, Bennett is recognized as the first music executive to discover Aerosmith front man Steven Tyler, when he was in a Yonkers, NY band called Chain Reaction.

As impactful as Bennett’s accomplishments were in the music industry, his long list of relationships spanned a who’s who of politics, sports, television and movies, including Bob Hope, Muhammad Ali, Richard Nixon, Elvis Presley, Dick Clark, Nat King Cole, John Wayne and Bobby Vinton.

Bennett is survived by his wife of 47 years, Annette, and his two sons, Peter and Joseph, all of Connecticut. Services will be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the American Heart Association.


Elton John Confirms Gaga is Godmother To Son

Elton John is convinced Lady Gaga is the perfect person to serve as godmother to his baby son, because the pop star is a real family girl at heart.

The Rocket Man hitmaker, who welcomed baby Zachary with partner David Furnish last December, has confirmed reports Gaga was indeed chosen for the honor and the couple is confident the outrageous star will do a great job.

During an interview with U.S. news show 20/20, which will air in its entirety on Friday, John says, “Yes, (Gaga is the godmother). When you get to the real person underneath, there’s a very simple New York girl who loves her parents. I love her to death and a lot of people said, ‘Oh that’s crazy.’ But they don’t know her, and we do.”

The Union

Elton John To Kick Off Tribeca Film Festival

This year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City will kick off with a free screening of director Cameron Crowe’s new Elton John documentary,The Union. The film follows the Rocket Man as he and piano legend Leon Russell record their album of the same name. The premiere will take place on April 20 at the North Cove at the World FinancialCenter in New York City.

The Mac Wire Goes To The Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Induction For 2011

By Anne M. Raso 

(Photos: Anne Raso and Splash) 

(March 15)—Last night's Rock And Roll Hall of Fame induction was special simply because for so many years, Alice Cooper fans have been circulating petitions to get the original shock rock group 
into the Hall--and it was about time. Backstage, it was great to see all the guys together 
(with the exception of guitarist Glen Buxton who passed away in late 1997). But it seems that 
Alice's snake Cugina Clutter was one of the biggest stars of the press room--we got the whole scoop on what it eats (dead rats) and why it is so tame from her handler, Debbie (apparently, snakes just get use to be
handled by humans and get kind of friendly after awhile).
Last night's festivities in the press room were kicked off by Neil Diamond's funny entrance where 
he simply snapped the media and paps with his iPhone from in front of the press room stage. Other 
exciting nominees and presenters that came to visit us included Neil Diamond on his own (as mentioned before), presenter Doors sticksman John Densmore with Elektra founder Jac Holzman, Leon Russell with presenter Elton John, Darlene Love with presenter Bette Midler (who gave the most 
hilarious speech of the night, hinting in her special way that she has been waiting a long time to get into
the Rock Hall herself), presenter Rob Zombie with the whole surviving original Alice Cooper band and Lloyd Price on behalf of the late Specialty Records label owner Art Rupe. Neil Young presented to Tom Waits but we just watched the presentation and then had to go catch themacwire.com mobile
back to Jersey!
Besides getting to do the usual quick Q&A and photo ops that the media gets there in the 
Hilton Room where the Rock Hall press room is set up, we got schmooze a little out in the Waldorf 
Foyer and took a peek at what was happening inside on monitors set up. It looks like Bette Midler 
was enjoying a schmoozefest with Neil Young, along with Bruce Springsteen hanging out with Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones (who was sitting next to NJ's most famous citizen). Michael J. Fox was there and billionaire hedge fund operator Ray Davilo got the "primo" seat in the house  at center stage...original rumors were that Ray Davies was going to get that seat but it was a different 
Our favorite moments of the evening--besides petting and holding Alice's snake--were the stellar Alice Cooper reunion performance with Rob Zombie joining in and the montage of vintage shots of Darlene Love. Besides having one of the great sets of pipes from the Wall Of Sound era, she apparently was also the ultimate Mod! It was also nice to catch up with John Densmore, not having seen him in 15 years---the last time we saw him was at the now-defunct Tramp's in Chelsea and we still recall what a fabulous show he put on. He looked dapper in a charcoal sequined suit and bolo tie that were out of character...but he wore them well. Speaking of wearing something well, we adored Dr. John's purple suit, 
trinket-embellished cane and natural snakeskin "pimp shoes" which he told the press that he actually got "at the pimp store"!
We took a bunch of candid and posed shots last night, so please enjoy! We apologize to any stars we took photos of from their "bad side" but we always thought that it was the "bad side" that made rock and roll interesting in the first place!

Check out this  cool interview Rolling Stone  did with Alice and his original bandmates backstage at the Rock Hall 2011 induction ceremony. We'll be putting up more stories and photos shortly, so stay tuned!

Elton John Documentary To Open Tribeca Film Festival

Writer-director Cameron Crowe’s documentary The Union, about the reunion of Elton John with his one time idol Leon Russell, has been selected to open Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Film Festival on April 20. In an unconventional launch, the festival plans to screen the film outdoors at the North Cove at the World Financial Plaza. The screening will be followed by a live performance by John. The Union is the first documentary directed by Crowe ( Say Anything, Almost Famous, Jerry Maguire ) and brings him closer to his early career as a teenage journalist for Rolling Stone , when he interviewed some of the top recording stars of the early 1970s. “As a longtime fan of both artists, it was a pleasure to spend a year filming their collaboration,” Crowe said in a statement. “We can’t wait to show it to one of the greatest audiences in the world, the Tribeca Film Festival.”

The Union

Elton John Set For Saturday Night Live Return After 29 Years

Elton John  has confirmed reports he’ll be hosting and performing on U.S. comedy show Saturday Night Live on April 2  (11).

He’ll perform with his The Union collaborator Leon Russell.
It will be Elton’s first time on the show since 1982.
To celebrate the big announcement, SNL boss Lorne Michaels offered two tickets to the show’s afterparty as an auction prize which was given away at Elton’s annual Oscars viewing party in Hollywood on Sunday night (Feb 27).
The tickets went under the hammer for $75,000. The cash will benefit the Elton John Aids Foundation.

The Union

Elton John To Honor Leon Russell At Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame Event

Elton John will induct pal Leon Russell into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame when the pianist is honoured among the Class of 2011 next month (Mar11).

The Brit gave Russell’s career a boost last year (10) when he recorded collaborative album The Union with his hero and mentor – and now the Tight Rope singer has asked his friend to introduce him at the Hall of Fame gala in New York
Russell and John are also nominated for a Grammy Award for The Union.
Meanwhile, Paul Simon will induct Neil Diamond, and Neil Young will induct Tom Waits at the ceremony on 20 March (11).
The Union
Alice Cooper will be honoured by Rob Zombie, Dr. John by John Legend and Darlene Love by Bette Midler.

Elton John And Leon Russell Play ‘If It Wasn’t for Bad’ in New York Video Premiere

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Photo: Courtesy of Decca Records

Video of Elton John and Leon Russell performing the track “If It Wasn’t For Bad” live from their album The Union has been made available exclusively on Spinner. The video was shot during the band’s performance at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, which also aired as a live special on Fuse. Additionally, it was announced last night “If It Wasn’t For Bad” has been nominated for a Grammy award in the Best Pop Collaboration category.
Released October 19th on DeccaElton John and Leon Russell’s acclaimed album The Uniondebuted at #3 on Billboard’s Top 200 Album Chart. The album debuted ahead of new releases from Rod Stewart, Shakira, Bob Dylan and the new Glee Soundtrack. The Union also made significant debuts on additional Billboard Charts including #2 Rock Album, #3 Internet Album and #5 Digital Album respectively, the album was launched with the duo making a slew of high-profile appearances including multiple mornings on Good Morning America, a performance on The View, a live concert broadcast on Fuse from New York City’s Beacon Theatre and a touching profile on NPR’s Morning Edition.

Elton John and Leon Russell’s ‘The Union Available now! Signed Vinyl Edition Being Sold For Charity

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Elton John and Leon Russell‘s high anticipated collaboration album The Unionis now available in stores and from digital retailers. Produced by Oscar and multiple-Grammy winning producer T Bone Burnett, ‘The Union‘ was recorded live in the studio with Elton and Leon on dueling pianos. The 14-track disc includes selections written by Elton and his lifelong lyricist Bernie Taupin, as well as the combined incomparable songwriting team consisting of Leon, Elton, Bernie and T Bone covering a variety of musical genres-from R&B, soul, gospel, country, pop and rock.

Rave reviews are already starting to pour in on the album, with Rolling Stone giving ‘The Union‘ a 5 out of 5 stars rating and stating “The Union is a rare gesture in a dying business: an act of gratitude. USA Today also praised the album, giving it 3 ½ out of 4 stars, saying “John’s voice and key-pounding , but producer T Bone Burnett does a good job mingling them with Russell’s country drawl and funky playing style.

In other ‘The Union‘ related news, Elton and Leon are offering framed vinyl editions of the album signed by both of them with the proceeds going to the Elton John AIDS Foundation. Limited to just 15, these special items come in a black metal frame with plexiglass, certificate of authenticity and numbered hologram sticker. For more info, head over to http://store.gotdownloads.com/elton