Leon Russell, Member Of Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame, Dies At 74

Leon Russell (L) performs with Willie Nelson in 2003

Leon Russell (L) performs with Willie Nelson in 2003

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (CNN) — Leon Russell, who emerged as a rock ‘n’ roll star in the 1970s after working behind the scenes as a session pianist for other musicians, died Sunday in Nashville, his wife Janet Bridges told CNN.

He was 74.

Russell died in his sleep, his wife said in a statement posted on his website.

Honey Bridges, his daughter, told CNN he was recovering from a quadruple bypass when his health took a turn for the worse.

The Tulsa-born singer was inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame in 2011 because of his decades of work as a pianist, guitarist and songwriter.

After recording in the 1960s with a group of Los Angeles session musicians nicknamed the Wrecking Crew, Russell captured the public’s attention as the top hat-wearing pianist and bandleader on Joe Cocker’s “Mad Dogs and Englishmen” tour in 1970.

While Cocker twisted and grimaced through his vocals, Russell calmly controlled the stage with gestures and looks, earning him the nickname, “The Master of Time and Space.”

The music legend, and versatile musician was scheduled to perform in Eureka Springs April 2017.