Grammy Award-winning Oklahoma rock music legend Leon Russell made an appearance in Tulsa, Okla. on Tuesday to help announce that a collection of items featuring him and his work has been acquired by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS) for display at the future Oklahoma Museum of Popular Culture (OKPOP).
The collection contains more than 4,500 items related to Russell's historic musical career, many of which have never been released to the public. They include photos, audio recordings, video, record albums, CDs, concert tickets, shirts, posters, magazines, books, articles and more.
During the announcement, Russell reminisced about his early years in Oklahoma.
"When I was a youngster, I saw Jascha Heifetz at the Municipal Theater in Tulsa, now known as 'the ol' lady on Brady,'" Russell said. "I also saw different inspiring shows like Clyde McPhatter, Lloyd Price, Chuck Berry, Ruth Brown and Jerry Lee Lewis. It was my pleasure to go on the road with Jerry Lee a couple of years later.
"When I first went to California at the age of 17, there was no home cooking like fried catfish or iced tea to be found anywhere in the state. In later years, Mayor Dewey Bartlett was a partner in the company that designed and built a home and recording studio at my Grand Lake estate.
"And now the good people of Oklahoma want to build a magnificent museum to honor me and others like me. God is good, amen and amen."
OHS was joined for the announcement Tuesday by fellow OKPOP Museum advocates Tulsa Mayor Dewey Bartlett; Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman; Senate Minority Leader Sean Burrage, D-Claremore; Tulsa Councilman Blake Ewing; representatives from George Kaiser Family Foundation, the Tulsa Regional Chamber and the Brady District Association and other supporters.
"It is such an honor for the Oklahoma Historical Society to be able to add this collection to the list of impressive examples of Oklahoma's musical and cultural talent that will be on display in the OKPOP Museum," said Dr. Bob Blackburn, executive director of OHS. "It is an even greater honor to have Leon with us here to celebrate this occasion. We are truly grateful for his support."