His real name is Todd Bridges – Leon's father was a big fan of Diff'rent Strokes. He told Jam! Music: "Leon was my nickname in college. There was this actor named Leon (Robinson) in films like The Temptations and Five Heartbeats - and when I started writing songs, I was like, 'Todd is a little weird.' So I went with Leon."
After a couple years of studying dance at a local community college, Bridges started playing the guitar; he wanted to learn simple chords to accompany his lyrics. "Somebody asked me, 'What are your inspirations? Sam Cooke?' I was like, 'Not really.' I'd heard about him, but I wasn't listening to him hard like that," Bridges told NME. "So after that I started digging into soul music and that 1950s and '60s vibe. I love the realness and the simplicity of it. The soul music they were making back then was from the heart."
Bridges started playing at open-mic nights around Fort Worth, Texas, while earning money washing dishes and bussing tables at Del Frisco's Grille. He told Radio.com how his dishwashing experience has carried into his music. "I didn't have anything handed to me coming up. It taught me how to work hard. It taught me to be content on what you had," Bridges said. "Even if it's a show for five or 20 people, it taught me to be thankful with what I had. I had to manage my time wisely having two jobs at certain times. Working a job and playing music taught me to manage my time and it was really helpful."
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