Today is the birthday
… of Leon Russell. He’s 72.
Leon Russell has been called a rock and roll Renaissance man, and indeed there is little that this Oklahoma-bred singer-pianist hasn’t done. His quixotic half-century in music stretches from his teen years in Oklahoma in the late Fifties to his best-selling collaboration with Elton John from 2010, The Union. Between his solo work, contributions to high-profile albums by other artists, and screen exposure in the Bangla Desh and Mad Dogs & Englishmen documentaries, Russell became a veritable superstar in the Seventies.
For someone as celebrated as a solo artist and live performer as Russell, it might be surprising to learn that he spent his first decade working behind the scenes. As an in-demand session musician in Los Angeles during the Sixties, Russell played on countless records, including many of Phil Spector’s productions and hits by the Byrds, Paul Revere & the Raiders, and Gary Lewis & the Playboys. He also played piano in the house band for Shindig! ABC-TV’s weekly rock and roll show.
… of jazz-rock guitarist of Larry Coryell. He’s 71.
… of Linda Hunt. The actress won an Oscar for playing a man in The Year of Living Dangerously. She did not play a woman posing as a man, like Barbra Streisand in Yentl. She actually played a male part. Ms. Hunt is 69 today. NewMexiKen liked Hunt particularly as the barkeep/saloon-owner in Silverardo. She is 4-foot-9.
… of baseball hall-of-famer Don Sutton. He, too, is 69 today.
A model of consistency and durability throughout his 23-year Major League career, Don Sutton won 324 games and struck out 3,574 batters, while never missing his turn in the pitching rotation for the Dodgers, Astros, Brewers, Athletics and Angels. A four-time All-Star, he reached double figures in wins in 21 of his 23 seasons and struck out over 100 batters in each of his first 21 campaigns. He pitched in four World Series and posted five career one-hit games.
… of Emmylou Harris. She’s 67 today.
Though other performers sold more records and earned greater fame, few left as profound an impact on contemporary music as Emmylou Harris. Blessed with a crystalline voice, a remarkable gift for phrasing, and a restless creative spirit, she traveled a singular artistic path, proudly carrying the torch of “Cosmic American music” passed down by her mentor, Gram Parsons. With the exception of only Neil Young — not surprisingly an occasional collaborator — no other mainstream star established a similarly large body of work as consistently iconoclastic, eclectic, or daring; even more than three decades into her career, Harris’ latter-day music remained as heartfelt, visionary, and vital as her earliest recordings.
… of SVU Detective Elliot Stabler. Actor Christopher Meloni is 53.
The French sculptor Frederic Auguste Bartholdi was born on April 2 in 1834. He is the creator of the Statue of Liberty. The statue’s face is said to be that of Bartholdi’s mother.
Walter Chrysler was born on this date in 1875.
After a successful career in the railroad industry that began as a sweeper, then a skilled machinist and finally the plant manager of the American Locomotive Company, Chrysler switched gears to enter the auto industry as the plant manager for Buick. After rising to the presidency of Buick, Chrysler moved to Willys-Overland in 1920, reorganizing and saving the company. While still at Willys-Overland, Chrysler was recruited to salvage the foundering Maxwell-Chalmers Company. After taking control of Maxwell’s assets and liabilities in June 1925, Chrysler became president of the company that bore his name, as did the automobiles manufactured by it. He remained as president until 1935, and served as chairman until his death in 1940.
Walter P. Chrysler Museum
In 1928 Chrysler was Time’s second-ever Person of the Year, following Lindbergh.