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Tony Russell

Tony Russell

A music historian and critic, Russell has written about blues, country, jazz and other American musics for MOJO, The Guardian and many specialist magazines. He has also acted as a consultant on TV documentaries such as American EpicFolk America and Blues America. His books include The Blues: from Robert Johnson to Robert Cray, The Penguin Guide to Blues Recordings (with Chris Smith & others), Country Music Originals: The Legends and the Lost, 1956: The Year That Changed Britain (with Francis Beckett) and the seminal Blacks, Whites and Blues. He has been twice nominated for a Grammy for his authorship (with Ted Olson) of the books accompanying the Bear Family boxed sets The Bristol Sessions 1927–1928: The Big Bang of Country Music (2011) and The Johnson City Sessions 1928–1929: Can You Sing Or Play Old-Time Music? (2013).

List of articles in the library by artist

Elvis Presley, Otis Blackwell: Otis Blackwell 1932 - 2002

Obituary by Tony Russell, Guardian, The, May 2002

Prolific writer behind some of Elvis’s greatest hits ...

Bobby Bland: Bobby "Blue" Bland dies at 83

Obituary by Tony Russell, Guardian, The, June 2013

BOBBY "BLUE" BLAND, who has died aged 83, was among the great storytellers of blues and soul music. In songs such as 'I Pity the ...

Nappy Brown, 1929-2008

Obituary by Tony Russell, Guardian, The, September 2008

1950s blues and R&B singer resurgent in the 80s and last year. ...

Ray Charles, 1930-2004

Obituary by Tony Russell, Guardian, The, June 2004

DURING THE 1960S, a generation of teenagers discovered America's hidden music of black blues, gospel and soul, and many of them promptly fissured into followings ...

Jack Clement, 1931-2013

Obituary by Tony Russell, Guardian, The, August 2013

JACK CLEMENT, who has died aged 82, was not only a prolific and successful songwriter and an able musician but had a long track record ...

Hank Snow, Jimmie Driftwood, Jimmie Rodgers: Roots of Country: Jimmie Rodgers, Jimmie Driftwood, Hank Snow albums

Review by Tony Russell, Cream, June 1972

THESE THREE double albums (with a fourth by Eddy Arnold) open a reissue series presumably intended to uncover the roots of today’s country music. Each ...

John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters: Blues reissues: Muddy Waters/John Lee Hooker/Little Walter/Smokey Hogg/Frankie Lee Sims

Review by Tony Russell, Cream, March 1972

EACH OF THESE bluesmen began to make his name soon after World War II, most of them profiting from the new urban audiences of blacks ...

Lightnin' Hopkins: Lightnin' Strikes

Retrospective by Tony Russell, History of Rock, The, 1983

When the great bluesman Big Bill Broonzy died in 1958 there were some who obituarised him as the last of the blues singers. ...

B.B. King: King Of The Blues

Profile by Tony Russell, History of Rock, The, 1983

Riley King was born in Itta Bena, Mississippi, on 16 September 1925. For a young black boy growing up amid the poverty and racial segregation ...

B.B. King: Will Success Spoil B.B. King?

Comment by Tony Russell, Cream, January 1972

ANY ARTIST who becomes noticeably successful soon has the more inquisitive, the harder-to-satisfy, of his followers asking ‘What’s he going to do now?’. Some sit ...

Lightnin' Slim: Gone Fishin'

Profile and Interview by Tony Russell, Melody Maker, February 1972

A FAMILIAR blues story is the one of the musician who held his first guitar almost before he clambered out of the cradle. As the ...

Little Walter, Muddy Waters, Sonny Boy Williamson: Muddy Waters: Electric Mud; Sonny Boy Williamson: Bummer Road; Little Walter: Blues With A Feelin’

Review by Tony Russell, MOJO, April 1997

CHICAGO IN THE FIRST DECADE after World War II spawned record labels like a salmon on fertility drugs. Many of them dealt with blues, some ...

Uncle Dave Macon: Keep My Skillet Good And Greasy (Bear Family)

Review by Tony Russell, Maverick, September 2004

UNCLE DAVE MACON was the first real star of country music. True, Fiddlin' John Carson got on disc first: Uncle Dave made his debut recording ...

Kate & Anna McGarrigle: Kate McGarrigle: obituary

Obituary by Tony Russell, Guardian, The, January 2010

Folk singer and songwriter at the heart of an innovative music-making family ...

Johnny Paycheck, 1938-2003

Obituary by Tony Russell, Guardian, The, March 2003

DESPITE THE EFFORTS of many producers and publicists, country music has resisted being severed from its roots in southern US working-class life. ...

Charlie Poole: You Ain't Talkin' To Me: Charlie Poole And The Roots Of Country Music

Review by Tony Russell, Maverick, May 2005

THE PAST IS another country music: they do things differently there. In a rural school hall, dancers execute their circle-lefts and allemands, the fire in ...

Ray Price 1926-2013

Obituary by Tony Russell, Guardian, The, December 2013

COUNTRY MUSIC entered a golden period after the second world war, as scattered regional styles such as honkytonk, western swing and bluegrass began to coalesce ...

T-Bone Walker: Rare Blues and a Worldwide Reputation

Retrospective by Tony Russell, History of Rock, The, 1983

T-BONE WALKER, had he been that sort of man, might have carried a chip on his shoulder the size of the Chrysler Building. ...

Muddy Waters: Loud & Clear

Profile by Tony Russell, History of Rock, The, 1982

When it comes to Chicago blues, Muddy Waters is The Man. "Spell it M! — A, child! — N!" as he growls in ‘Mannish Boy’. ...

Doc Watson, 1923-2012

Obituary by Tony Russell, Guardian, The, May 2012

FOR ALMOST 50 YEARS, Doc Watson, who has died aged 89, was the most illustrious name in traditional American folk music. A superb, original guitarist ...

List of genre pieces

Blues In The Bottle: American Vernacular Music and the Medicine Show

Book Review by Tony Russell, Catalyst, May 2006

A review of the compilation Good For What Ails You: Music of the Medicine Shows, 1926-1937 (Old Hat Records) ...

Elijah Wald: Escaping The Delta: Robert Johnson And The Invention Of The Blues

Book Review by Tony Russell, New Humanist, May 2004

FOR A MUSIC that has always been resolutely secular, the blues has attracted a remarkable crowd of hierarchs and hierophants. Scholars, musicians, record collectors and ...

Herb Abramson, 1916-1999

Obituary by Tony Russell, Guardian, The, December 1999

HERB ABRAMSON, who has died aged 82, was one of the architects of Atlantic Records, which in the 1950s and 60s was the most creative ...

Leroi Jones: Blues People

Review by Tony Russell, MOJO, July 1995

WHEN BLUES PEOPLE WAS PUBLISHED in 1963, LeRoi Jones became the first black American to have written a book about the blues. It did not ...

Bewitching And Captivating: A Calypsonian history of Trinidad

Review by Tony Russell, Catalyst, May 2007

"The report of the Commission of Inquiry/Has arrived in this colony/It touches health and sanitation/Housing, wages and education . . ." The subject matter of ...

Disc Jockeys

Overview by Tony Russell, History of Rock, The, 1981

The men who turned the USA on to rock DISK JOCKEYING IS AN OLD TRADE – but not perhaps, an old name: music-biz archaeologists have ...

Leonard Chess: Grand Master Of The Blues

Retrospective by Tony Russell, History of Rock, The, 1982

Chess is one the great labels. Along with Sun and Atlantic it has stamped its trademark indelibly on the history of rock. ...

Various Artists: The Gospel Sound

Review by Tony Russell, Cream, November 1972

YOU READ it here, you read it there: gospel is close to the heart of blues and rock. But where do you hear what that ...

Various Artists: Arhoolie Records 40th Anniversary Collection 1960-2000 (Arhoolie)

Review by Tony Russell, MOJO, November 2000

A 5-CD box set and photo-packed book celebrate a life committed to roots music. Subtitled The Journey of Chris Strachwitz. ...

Various: The Complete Sun Singles Vol 1 (Bear Family)

Review by Tony Russell, MOJO, April 1995

SUN RECORDS HAS A SPECIAL PLACE IN the history – or, if you never took to Presley, the demonology – of popular music, and the ...

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