Universal Music Publishing signs deal with Leon Russell

MUMBAI: Universal Music Publishing Group (UMPG) has signed renowned session man and songwriter Leon Russell to a worldwide co-publishing deal for The Union, his collaboration with UMPG’s legendary artist/composer Elton John and premier lyricist and songwriting partner Bernie Taupin. The new album was released on 19 October.

UMPG chairman and CEO David Renzer said, "Leon Russell is a legend in his own right. Teaming with Elton John, and Bernie Taupin has resulted in a special record that will be a true event around the globe. We’re honored to have Leon join the UMPG family and look forward to seeing this project achieve worldwide acclaim and success."

"Representing three of the greatest songwriters who have ever lived, on one project, is a once in a lifetime opportunity. It doesn’t get any better than this and we intend to do everything we can, here at Universal Music Publishing Group, to make this an incredibly successful project around the world," said Universal Music Publishing Group EVP of creative, East Coast Evan Lamberg.

The Union rekindles the musical friendship that Elton John and Leon Russell, whom John has referred to as his idol, initiated more than forty years ago. John, Russell, and Taupin (along with producer T Bone Burnett) co-wrote the entire album, their first ever studio collaboration, which they described to Rolling Stone as "Two pianos, no egos." The album features thirteen duets between Elton John and Leon Russell, with Rondor’s Brian Wilson featured as a guest collaborator and features such singles as "If It Wasn’t For Bad," "Hey Ahab," and "Monkey Suit." All songs on the album were performed live, with one or two takes. John and Russell are planning for The Union tour in 2011.

Throughout an impressive discography that stretches over five decades, Russell has collaborated with some of the world’s leading artists and writers, including Joe Cocker, Willie Nelson, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Frank Sinatra, Glen Campbell, B.B. King, Bob Dylan, The Beach Boys, and The Rolling Stones. Fourteen of his albums have landed in the Billboard Top 200 chart, including top ten successes Carney and Leon Live. One for the Road, his collaboration with Willie Nelson, featured the No. 1 country single "Heartbreak Hotel."

Elton John and Bernie Taupin met in 1967, and an uninterrupted quarter century of creativity ensued with Elton John selling more than 200,000,000 records, being awarded 23 Gold albums and 13 Gold single records. He and lyric writer, Bernie Taupin, comprise one of the longest-running and most successful songwriting teams of all time – John and Taupin have to date collaborated on over 30 albums and maintain extraordinary levels of popularity and accomplishment. Taupin continues to reign as one of the premier lyricists in the entire spectrum of rock and roll.