Leon began playing piano at an early age and was able to begin formal lessons at the age of six. When Little Richard and "Fats" Domino hit the scene around 1956, Leon quickly shifted from classical to rock & roll .
In the early 60s, Leon formed his own band called The Apollos. They began to back up national acts that passed through Northern California. And as one might expect, by the mid-60s they began to cover Beatles and other sounds of changing times. Working in the San Francisco, Sacramento and NorthValley areas, they rubbed shoulders and hung out with many of the fledgling psychedelic bands: Yardbirds, Beau Brummels, Janis Joplin, 13th Floor Elevators, Blue Cheer, and the like. This would move the direction towards psychedelia. The group, now called ‘Miniature Concert’ found themselves in the Haight-Ashbury scene and were a regular opening act at the Fillmore and Avalon Ballroom. They often shared venues and were ‘buddy-band’ with folks like The Gollywogs (who would, later, become Creedence Clearwater Revival) and Timothy B. Schmidt (Eagles)
Leon managed to survive ‘the summer of love’ and as with so many hippies of the time, he became filled with wanderlust. His took him to the Olympic Peninsula in Washington where he did some logging and worked on a fishing boat. By 1969 he was easily convinced to give up the hard labor and in 1970, together, with new-found friends in Oklahoma, formed the band Firewind.
"Shortly after the Celebration of Life, a major festival in Louisiana, Firewind's manager, John Hendrix, one of the West Coast's hottest underground dj's of the that era and a great fan of Leon-Forrest, took the Firewind tape to several of his LA record company connections including Warners Bros., Electra (Home of the Doors), and Leon Russell's famous Shelter Records. Leon-Forrest liked Shelter Records, and they were owned by another piano player named Leon. Shelter wanted to sign Firewind, but it was too late, because within the first month, Firewind received an immediate contract offer from one of the biggest hit making producers of the 60's.... Gabriel Mekler...Producer of STEPPENWOLF, 3-DOG NIGHT, DONOVAN and JANIS JOPLIN's PEARL."
"At that time, Leon Forrest was committed to a female friend but he might as well have been committed to Ken Kesey's Cuckoo's Nest. Because..... the other members of the group and family had decided to partake of substantial chemical complementatives in the form of goofy logs, whacky tobaccy, peyote under glass, stay awake all night rhubarb, and many other delights from Mother Earth's garden and Ousley's underground chem lab in Marin County.
Leon, then discovered eastern religions, drawn to the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda He took his Kriya initiation with Gary Wright and Dennis Weaver. Leon will never leave that path,and is deeply grateful for the truth inherent in it.
In 1974 the band returned to Oklahoma and with a fortune in music production knowledge, built a recording studio and took over an old church, which quickly became a famous concert hall called the “PRAIRIE LADY”,for national acts (see harbinger history). After only a short-lived fame, their beautiful studio was destroyed by a tornado, and the Prairie Lady burned to the ground! The tragedy devastated the band and Leon fled to Lincoln CityOregon in 1976 to help his mother sell a house and to retreat....A new beginning.
By 1979, Leon was vigorously involved with the local music scene and built and equipped his own recording studio. Numerous artists recorded with him and many were in need of production assistance, so Leon formed harbinger northwest records and turned the studio into Leon-Forrest Productions Through the years, Leon-Forrest Productions added video and TV production expertise and …”the beat goes on”.
Since the early years after coming to Oregon, Leon has been making music from Seattle to Nashville, either as a producer, an engineer, with a band, or as a studio musician.
Leon has had quite an extensive musical career and has played with many artists and has banked knowledge from many situations, experiences and scenarios. He has seen the entertainment industry from both sides.
In 1991 Leon immersed himself scoring scenes for a “Soap-Opera” type “Eco-Comedy” called “WHITEWATER”, and found he had a knack for it, as well as loving it!…Currently He’s looking forward to working more closely with Video and Television producers integrating and evolving the craft.
Leon is the producer of the "Artists of the Longhouse". You’ll also find him,on any week-end rockin with several of Oregon’s finest bands, as a singer and keyboardist.