Re-The New Mad Dogs & Englishmen Movie

Dear Bob, thank you for the article on Leon. It warmed my heart. As you know I adored his style of playing, singing and songwriting. He was a one off and treated me with incredible kindness when I came to America. He took me on tour with him and I was able to watch the maestro every evening. What a beautiful experience it was!

So glad that other musicians are playing homage to him.Great musicians and singers.

To be honest you have to be good to play his stuff. Derek Trucks is a beautiful man and an incredible guitarist as you so rightly point out. In fact DT plays on one of my upcoming album tracks. Tedeschi Trucks keep soulful music alive amongst many others.

Their tribute to “Layla” being a recent example. This is the music that inspired me and thousands of other musicians/singers. Joe Cocker was an extraordinary singer and performer. The rendition of “The Letter” has been shown many times to  new artists that I encounter. They always make me play it again. Also the backing vocalists are sublime. Ditto Bobby Keys. Going to shows like “Mad Dogs” made you feel superhuman after you left. Your whole being became joyful and full of love.

When I did “The Union” with Leon, I took HIM on tour and we played big arenas the likes of which he had not played for many years. When he came on stage at every concert he got a standing ovation. During  the barren years he had lost his self worth as an artist.

I was SO happy to give him his belief back. The album came in at number 4. He got into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. The Songwriters Hall Of Fame. His star was shining again. Alas his health had long deteriorated long before we started the album. He was unable to take advantage of his resurrection, so to speak. But, he got his self respect back which was all I ever wanted.

By writing about him you help keep the magic alive. Thank you so for doing that.

He was a true musical genius. And, I still think about him, talk about him and play his music on my radio shows.

I send buckets of love to you Bob.

Elton x


Hey Bob, Mad Dogs! The Best. I grew up with that record, found the movie on DVD a decade ago. It is the most compelling music ever and the movie?  I couldn’t stop watching it. Being a young musician in LA at the time those people were heroes of mine. Jim  Gordon, Jim Keltner, Leon, Russell, Rita Coolidge, I mean with Carl Radle on bass and Chris Stainton on keyboards?  A few friends of mine knew Don Preston. Did you know they took the band into A&M studio after rehearsals before they hit the road? Henry Lewy recorded it. I know a big time engineer/producer that was the second engineer, he’s got a 1/4 of the roughs. He even said that night was the best music he has ever heard. I keep telling him to dig the tape out of his closet!

Marty Walsh


I remember seeing this movie with my brother and some friends in the early 70’s when it came out.  I was in 10th or 11th grade.  I thought it was one of the best rock documentaries ever.  Became big fans of Cocker and Russell after this.  And since seeing it I never found another person who saw it.

Over the years I’ve had people talk to me about “rockumentaries” that we each had seen and when I mentioned this movie I just got blank stares.  So much so that I began to wonder did I dream that?  Was I just confusing it with something else?  Over the last 15 years I have searched the internet for a copy of the movie all to no avail.  Guess I never looked in the right place.  A couple of years ago I found a DVD copy of the movie on eBay and bought it immediately.  Alas, I wasn’t crazy.

This music was fantastic. I remember you saying you actually saw this show live and I was so jealous.  I actually met Rita Coolidge in 2017 when she came to see the band I was in play a couple of shows.  I really wanted to ask her about this tour but I thought of your constant advice about when you meet a star don’t talk about their work so I didn’t.  She did say she loved the stuff we had written and we should absolutely record it, so what more did I need in my musical life.  Frickin’ Rita Coolidge liked it and saw us more than once!

So I got that going for me.

Loved, loved, loved this piece and will definitely check out the documentary.  Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

Charlie Vanture

Member of the now-retired Sarah Mac Band


Cool man! Glad you liked it. I played bass in tedeschi trucks in that show. Was one of the best shows I’ve ever been a part of, and I’ve been part of a few. Was super powerful to be around those people and yes, sue and derek and chris Robinson are genuine stars.

Tim Lefebvre


I was lucky enough to be working at A@M records when the employees were invited to participate as audience members for the filming of the original video of Mad Dogs and Englishmen in Hollywood.
One of my fondest memories.
It was a joy to work for Herb and Jerry during those glory days on the lot at Sunset
and La Brea!
Lin in Honolulu

Howard Wolen


I was there at ten years old!

Between them and Sly Stone I thought all bands were about community, then later I joined one.

What a lesson I am still smarting from.

John Payne


The link!

This Diamond Ring was my first 45 and this one was where it all began for me.

So – the link is that Leon Russell did the arrangement for the song and, of course, Al Kooper who you just highlighted last week, shared writing credits as part of The Brill Building stable.

My earliest LPs included the 2nd “Joe Cocker” LP and not long after, Leon Russell’s first.  Saw MD&E at the Fillmore East and the album was a had-to-have as soon as it was released.  The earliest incarnations of the jacket had a semi-floppy fold-up half.  The entire cover was made from some unusual material, not quite cardboard but something glossy and thinner than a standard LP jacket.

And without Carl Radle’s Oklahoma connection with Leon Russell, he’d have never been a Domino.

Leon Russell followed up the MD&E tour with a PBS special – The Homewood Session (recorded, or broadcast, the same night I saw the next to last Derek & The Dominoes US tour show at the Portchester Theater). An eye-opening peek at the creative Russell with entourage.



That was the shit. Went to see Mad Dogs & Englishmen in a theater in Hollywood on acid, came out at midnight and went downtown for one of my first tattoos. That music sounds better today than the day they made it and while we are on the topic, it was pretty much the same time frame as the first “Delaney & Bonnie” album was popular and to me those two recordings were THE best of the era and of course those musicians often mixed and matched. Jesus our generation brought it like a mother fu**er. Gerry McGee’s guitar on the Delany and Bonnie thing was hipper than anything old no mask Eric ever did once they got famous enough to be self destructive.

Larry Brown (guitar)


I went to Franklin & Marshall College (Class of ‘71). Back in the late 60’, early 70’s, we had more major concerts per month than any college in the East Coast . Why? Because every major act that played Philly either Friday or Saturday would be offered to play Lancaster on the other night. Bill Honey was the Philly promoter who came up with the arrangement. Who else had Simon & Garfunkel in the afternoon and James Brown at night on the same day? I was on the F&M Student Union Board that booked the shows.   Bill offered us The Grease Band ( Joe’s 6 piece band) for $7,500.  A good draw as Joe was getting great FM play from his solo albums. But what showed up at Lancaster Airport when I drove out to pick up Joe,  was an old 1940’s Constellation plane that spilled out with over 40 musicians, singers and “ friends.” Sure Leon ran the music, but no one was there to see him.  It was Joe’s show, 100%.  They must have been losing many thousands of 1970 Dollars per day.   Jerry Moss was underwriting it as the double album was selling millions.  Years later, when Joe had a resurgence on Capital Records,  we saw each other in a NYC club, and reminisced about the insanity of it all.

Marty Scott


I saw mad Dogs and Englishmen at Winterland in San Francisco. My girlfriend liked Joe Cocker and we had previously seen him with the Grease Band at Fillmore West.

I can still picture them onstage with Leon playing guitar standing on top of the piano and me with my mouth hanging open going WTF is that! I could not take my eyes off Leon the whole night.

I went to see him on tour with his own band as well. I later found out about his history as a studio musician in Los Angeles and his being part of the Wrecking Crew.

I think Carney is my favorite album of Leon’s.

Larry Green


Bob, love the newsletter. But I’m an old friend of Jim Horn and I’m pretty sure I would’ve heard if he had died. In fact, Steve Cropper and I were talking about Jim just the other day and in the present tense (as in still circling the drain). If you know otherwise hit me back. But I’m pretty sure you got this wrong.

Thom Flora


Leon and Shelter actually set up in Tulsa and their studio, The Church Studio, still stands today. After Leon, it was sold to Steve Ripley of The Tractors and then it passed through a few more hands in the late 00s before being purchased by the new owner, Teresa Knox. She and her husband are in the middle of restoring it into a functioning studio, along with adding an addition that will include a museum and event space. If you ever do make it to Oklahoma, make sure to stop in Tulsa. Get a tour of the studio and get a taste of our musical history. Like Leon was the in-demand studio musician that everyone in the know knew about but only had a flicker of mainstream success, Tulsa gets overlooked, but I’ve lost count of the number of touring musicians I’ve heard proclaim their affinity for this city after playing for a Tulsa crowd (or even better, in a legendary room like Cain’s Ballroom).

Sarah Martin


Leon had 3 studios in Oklahoma. One in his house in Tulsa. One at his lake house on Grand Lake. His main studio was in a converted Church in Tulsa. It sounded amazing. Dwight also had an unknown bass player play with him, Tom Petty.  Leon signed two other locals, JJ Cale and the GAP band. GAP is short for Greenwood Archer and Pine. It was the location of the Black Wall Street and Tulsa’s race mass murder. Leon never had a studio in OKC….that I know of.

Steve Ripley of Tractors and Bob Dylan fame purchased the Church when he moved back to Tulsa from California. I will send you Steve’s radio show he did for the the Oklahoma Historical Society about Oklahoma music. It focused on Rock and Red Dirt.

Hope you are well.

Mike Busch

P.S. Here is a video of Dwight with Tom Petty playing bass.


The Shelter Records studio in Oklahoma was The Church Studio in TULSA (! Please come visit Tulsa in late 2022 or 2023, check out the Woody Guthrie Center ( and the soon to open Bob Dylan Center ( and the Oklahoma Museum of Pop Culture (

You can learn more about all those great Okie musicians you mentioned including some of the all-time great drummers (Chuck Blackwell in Mad Dogs and the LOCKN reunion, Jamie Oldaker, David Teegarden (, Jimmy Karstein and the amazing Jim Keltner), as well as J.J, Cale, The Gap Band, David Gates, Jesse Ed Davis and more.

You can take in a show at the historic Cain’s Ballroom ( and if you time it right, you can sit in on one of my Oklahoma Music History classes.

Twilley is still around, plus great art deco history, Greenwood/Black Wall Street (, and The Gathering Place ( I’ll even treat you to a show at the Hard Rock.

Randy Cale

Hard rock Tulsa


I don’t usually have much to say about music as I got out of DJing and went into news radio where I stayed employed for 34 years in Los Angeles. But before KNX & KFWB I was a construction worker in Tulsa and did a small bit of carpentry on the Church Studio that Leon built in 1972. It’s not in Oklahoma City. Although I never met Leon the club scene at that time was a blast. Freddie King , El Roacho ,Gary Montgomery & Gary Busey. My construction worker buddy the late Buzz Clifford,himself a musician, knew all of them.  Buzz went on to be a fabulous blues man but never made the charts again like he did with “Babysittin’Boogie”
They are restoring the Church Studio . You can read about it here:


I did say hello to Joe Cocker at the Byrds reunion show in Ventura.

John Brooks

KFWB-KNX  1979-2013


We promoted Leon‘s last show with mad dogs at the swing auditorium in San Bernardino. I stood on the stage with my wife and my dog and watched how Leon ran the whole band. And an evening I’ll never forget turned into the honor of currently representing the estate.

I think the movie is great and I am sure  it will make the kind of impact that will help reawaken interest in Leon’s music. We have many hours of unreleased material and what You realize is if it was happening,  Leon was there, and his songs stand the test of time. You will be hearing a lot more Leon in the years to come.

Bill Siddons


Hi Bob. Thank you for taking the time to watch and wax at length on my film Learning To Live Together: The Return of Mad Dogs & Englishmen. I’m honored by your reaction and touched that you connected so profoundly to it. I know a lot of that has to do with your fundamental relationship to this music- you actually got to experience the original Mad Dogs tour (at the Capitol Theatre no less, which makes a cameo in the film)! Not a lot of people can say that… You’re in a special class, along with Jon Landau, Steve Earle, Bob Dylan…

But I think ultimately what your letter hits upon is the very reason Tedeschi Trucks needed to organize the only-ever reunion of the Mad Dogs (and why I needed to make a film about it… and I certainly was not alive when the original took place)- the music of Mad Dogs & Englishmen is some of the most sacred in the history of rock’n’roll. You say it yourself, “You’ll ponder your own life path.” “The music is bigger than the players.” Amen, amen…

There was a piece I left out of the film, where Leon tells me a few hours before showtime that he hoped the audience that night would receive “the holy ghost.” That they did (I’ve heard the trope “greatest concert I’ve ever been to” from many in reference to the reunion concert), and I’m fairly confident that “spirit” is captured in the film. You certainly hear it in the performances (I’ve watched/heard these edits/mixes hundreds, if not thousands, of times over and I’m still not tired of it).  As much as I still mourn his loss, I really wasn’t surprised that Leon passed so soon after the reunion. The Master of Space & Time himself needed to have this one last communion with this all-powerful music he dreamt up, this time with Derek at the helm. Sure the spirit has moved on to Susan, Derek, Chris Robinson (“superstars” in their own rite),  but my hope is that some teenage singer or college-band sees my film and the spirit of Joe and Leon and Tedeschi Trucks passes on to them (like when the lead singer of my college band played me Mad Dogs for the first time), and they go on to create inspired music or art that has some impact on someone, not matter how big or small. Mission accomplished if that happens, because that’s what it’s all about…

As you note, it was a long-time coming for us- six years in the making actually (with a couple pauses and a pandemic thrown in), but I couldn’t be more thrilled that the film will finally see the light of day. Major gratitude to Wayne Forte, Blake Budney, Derek and Susan for their tireless support and efforts, and the countless others who invested creative energy, finances or simply opened doors, made connections etc. It was a herculean task to get this film cleared (simply look at the Mad Dogs repertoire), but we got it done, and now the greater public can enjoy it soon, like you have.

Thanks again for watching and I think I would be remiss if I didn’t mention we have our world premiere at the Woodstock Film Festival this Thursday September 30, will be in theatres nationwide later in October (you can follow @maddogsdoc on any social platform for updates), and will make our international premiere at the Raindance Film Festival in London on Halloween! We hope that reactions like yours will get it on a streaming platform in the near future, and that the film doesn’t suffer the same fate as the original Mad Dogs documentary, which I own on LaserDisc…

Jesse Lauter
Director/Producer, Learning To Live Together: The Return of the Mad Dogs & Englishmen

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