- Associated Press - Monday, March 14, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) - Capping a year where Leon Russell says Elton John found him in “a ditch beside the highway of life,” Russell became a new member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The piano player with a shock of long white hair and beard joined a class of Dr. John, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Darlene Love and Tom Waits at induction ceremonies at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Manhattan on Monday.

John and Russell recorded an album together and toured for the past year. In his heyday, Russell wrote “A Song for You” and “Delta Lady.”

Russell walked on stage slowly with the help of a cane. He says: “Thank you very much. I appreciate it and Hallelujah.”

The work by the inducted artists will be celebrated in perpetuity at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland.




THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

NEW YORK (AP) _ New Orleans piano maestro Dr. John wore a bright purple suit for his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Monday, leading a class with Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper and Tom Waits.

Singer Darlene Love, whose voice cut through Phil Spector’s “Wall of Sound,” called her induction into the Hall her best 70th birthday present.

Pianist Leon Russell also was to be inducted at a black-tie dinner at The Waldorf-Astoria hotel in Manhattan. A tape of the ceremony is to air March 20 on Fuse.

Dr. John said he felt “like I’m blessed to be singing, to be breathing.”

He was inducted by singer John Legend, who recalled meeting him at a benefit for Hurricane Katrina relief. Legend said the new Hall of Fame member has been a leading global ambassador for New Orleans and its special musical gumbo.

“He has never stopped flying the flag of funk,” Legend said. “Tonight, he is definitely in the right place at the right time.”

Story Continues →