Born in Austin, Texas on Halloween 1948, Russell spent the first years of his life in a grubby bar where his father worked as a cook and his mother as a waitress. His first memories are of this old wooden hut which stood in a sorry cul-de-sac with Pete Pistol’s Wrecking Yard at the end. " We kinda knew that we were on the wrong side of the tracks ", he said. " But for me, it was a wonderland of motors, cars and colourful real people ". At this time in his life, his favourite band was Johnny And The Twilighters, a purely instrumental group. Russell was the first person ever to sing a song in this group.
At the age of twelve he picked up a guitar for the first time and four years later he played in a group called the Cavemen. As a teenager he was in trouble with the law on several occasions and, after a raid on a small grocer’s shop, he landed in jail where he was forced to stay until his 21st birthday. " One day my cell partner died and that night a song came to me. I wrote it down and since then have been writing, trying to tell what I’ve seen and what has caused me to believe ".
Having been let out of jail, Russell crossed the Rio Grande to Old Mexico and lived in Nuevo Laredo which was directly on the border with Laredo in Texas. Again, however, he landed in jail, this time in Mexico. Russell describes this as an " interesting experience ". Upon his return to Austin he slept under a house on Patterson Avenue and tried to get the local music industry interested in his songs. He hung around with people like Townes Van Zandt and Blaze Foley in the town’s songwriter bars which were heavy with drugs and alcohol. At the age of thirty he was jailed once more for the possession of illegal drugs, and upon his release took just about every lousy job which was offered to him. In 1989 he joined with Ike Ritter, Speedy Sparks and Charley Sexton to produce a cover version of Jimmy Reed¹s " Got Me Running ", and subsequently signed a contract with a French record company. " I had 22 original songs on a demo cassette that I always carried to try and push to anyone I thought might be someone " he remembers. " I gave it to the guy and they called me the next day from Paris ".
What followed was a handful of magnificent blues pieces, like " A Crack In Time " from 1990, the much rougher " Sounds From The Fourth World ", and " Soldier ", which was released in 1992 and which hit the shops in France and Germany at the same time. In 1993 Russell performed his first concert in Germany. That December marked the appearance of his stage work " Le Voyageur - Live! " which followed a series of 178 (!) performances which he gave in that year, primarily in France. The work was recorded during four sold-out shows in France.
1995 saw the release of " Dream Of The Dog " which contained 11 new songs, including a new version of the Eric Burdon classic " It’s My Life ". With the release of his best of album, " This Is My Life ", in 1998, Russell resumed his artistic life whilst beginning, at the same time, a new phase in his career. Five studio albums, a live album and the aforementioned retrospective still rank today among the rich fund of his releases. " Rebel Radio " adds a further atmospheric landmark to his story. Once again, Russell¹s turbulent life is expressed on this album in melancholic blues songs which display remarkable depth and passion.