About the only mystery surrounding the most recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony is why the top-hatted and silver-maned Leon Russell still hasn't been welcomed. After all, since lying about his age to land a gig in a Tulsa bar 50 years ago, the Oklahoma native has toiled as frontman, sideman, and everywhere-else man for some of rock's signature moments.
Russell toured with Jerry Lee Lewis and the Rolling Stones, headlined George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh with Dylan and Clapton, manned the keyboards as a member of Phil Spector's studio band, led his own Shelter studio and record label, and contributed the piano parts on Jan & Dean's "Surf City," the Beach Boys' "California Girls," and Bobby Boris Pickett's "Monster Mash."
The soulful singer's 1972 classic, Carney, brought his first top-10 single, "Tight Rope," as well as "Manhattan Island Serenade" (predating Springsteen's "New York City Serenade" by a year) and a little ditty called "This Masquerade," which dominated rock, pop, jazz, and R&B radio when covered by George Benson in 1976. There were certainly more annoyingly overplayed singles that year (like Eric Carmen's "All by Myself"), and maybe that's why Russell's still waiting on his invitation.