Leon’s interest in music started at an early age. Encouraged by his mother, Leah, he started playing piano at age six, switched to violin at age eight, and finally settled in on the clarinet when he was nine. When he started attending Durrett High School in Louisville, KY, he wanted to play in the stage band, but needed to be able to double on the saxophone in addition to the clarinet. A friend offered to sell Leon his unused alto sax and he was on his way. While playing in the stage band he found that he enjoyed improvisation. Around age 15 he realized he could easily duplicate songs that he heard without the benefit of reading the sheet music. After sitting in with some local rock & roll bands the phone began to ring. Leon was quickly in demand and began playing with various bands at local teen clubs and some night clubs. Leon continued to play the clarinet in the Durrett band until his junior year. Then Leon's band director convinced him to play a newly acquired contra bass clarinet. It was a good fit for Leon, and he was selected to play in the Kentucky All-State Orchestra. It was an interesting balance of playing concert music during the week and rock & roll sax on the weekends.

After graduating from high school, Leon was accepted into the University Of Louisville School Of Music to study clarinet. He had just begun to play the sax for a newly formed band call The Monarchs. The group quickly became one of the most sought after bands in the area. Their local popularity paid off with a Monument Records recording contract. After two regional hits, their recording of “Look Homeward Angel” hit the charts in the USA, Canada and Europe. After touring, performing and backing up many of the icons of the early days of rock & roll, The Monarchs took some time off as the guys turned their attention to their careers and families. Leon then began working with various bands playing everything from rock & roll to jazz to big band standards, blues, contemporary Christian, and even country. Leon also worked as a studio musician in the late sixties and early seventies. This versatility is demonstrated in the release of his CD, “Leon Middleton, Solo.”

After a reunion in the early seventies, The Monarchs began to accept requests to perform. Once again, they quickly became one of the most “in demand” bands in the area. Today they continue to work with national acts and are the headline performers at area fairs and festivals. They are also a favorite at private, corporate and charitable functions. With The Monarchs, Leon performs several times each year as a headline act with the Louisville Orchestra. He has performed for several Kentucky Governors at the executive mansion and has played for President George W. Bush. Leon worked with Reed Yadon at Channel 19 in the production of the documentary of the history of The Monarchs. The video became one of the highest grossing locally produced videos. Leon's release of his solo CD on Saxking records is a collage of musical genre dating back from his early days of performing to some of today's more contemporary music. Today Leon not only performs with The Monarchs, but also demonstrates his musical versatility playing light jazz, standards and blues with other local area bands.

Over the past several decades, Leon has performed with the following artist.

Early Appearances

The Beach Boys
Jay and the Americans
B.J. Thomas
Dusty Springfield
The Righteous Bros.
Del Shannon
The Newbeats
Roy Orbison
Dee Dee Sharp
Brook Benton

 

Franki Valli and the Four Seasons
Freddie Cannon
Bobby Vee
Peter and Gordon
Bo Diddley
Gene Pitney
Bobby Goldsboro
Sonny and Cher
Glen Campbell
The Chrystals
 

Recent Appearances

Chubby Checker
The Platters
The Everly Bros.
Gary Lewis and The Playboys
The Shirrells
Mitch Rider and the Detroit Wheels
Spiral Staircase
The Diamonds
Ray Peterson
Tommy James
The Drifters
Al Wilson
The Spinners
The Classics IV
Little Anthony
Blood, Sweat and Tears
Climax
The Casinos
Eddie Holman
The Buckinghams
The Boxtops
 

 

 

 

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