Leon Blue

Leon Blue
Leon Blue has appeared on 8 Big Blues Bender lineups.
2024, 2023, 2022, 2021, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016

Leon Blue (yes, that's his real name!) may just be the finest blues piano man you've never heard of. Not that he hasn't had more than his share of high profile gigs – lengthy spells with The Ike & Tina Turner Revue, Lowell Fulson, and Albert Collins to name just a few - it's just that he's spent most of his career as a sideman rather than out front in the spotlight. But the company he's kept speaks volumes about his talent, professionalism, and versatility as a musician. Born in Wichita Falls, Texas in 1931, Leon was first inspired to play piano in 1940 after hearing records of the pounding boogie-woogie of Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons, and also early live performances by fellow Texan Charles Brown.

By 1955, Leon and his three brothers, all also musicians, had relocated to Los Angeles and were performing as The Four Scooters. Before long Leon was making connections with a who's who of the bustling L.A. blues scene, and over the next three decades played and recorded with some of the biggest names active on the west coast (and elsewhere), including B.B. King, Albert King (who says hired and fired him three different times), Roy Milton, Fats Washington, Little Joe Blue, and many others. Leon even played a fill-in gig in L.A. with Chicago blues great Muddy Waters, when Muddy's regular pianist Pinetop Perkins missed his plane. When Pinetop finally arrived, Muddy didn't want to hire him back! All of this in addition to being a regular member of the Ike & Tina Turner Revue during their most successful years, from 1964 until 1978.

Although he relocated to Las Vegas in the early 1990s because of Albert Collins, he hasn't slowed down a bit. He continued to tour regularly with his old friends like Roy Gaines, Sonny Rhodes, or Phillip Walker, and is frequently in L.A. for gigs and recording sessions, tickling the ivories or pounding out a boogie as needed. But it wasn't until The Mannish Boys sessions in 2004 that Leon got a chance to show off his 'secret weapon' on record for the very first time - a warm and husky blues voice, that we're sure to hear more of in the future.

Nowadays, still, alive and kicking, Leon mostly performs as a headliner either solo or with other musicians. Lately, he spends quite some time in Holland. In 2011 this resulted in a very original recording during one session at Little Label, where Leon sat down at a beautiful baby grant and couldn't stop playing. This cd, Leon Blue in Holland, is beautiful, emotional, original black blues.

The 2024 Big Blues Bender Lineup