Russ was born in Wimbledon, South London - grew up in Surrey and currently resides in the South West of England. He has been drumming since he was 9 years old - inspired by seeing the late, great Cozy Powell on the TV show, Top of the Pops. He was taught by Vic Pantling (a student of the legendary big band drummer and teacher - Max Abrams), also by Military/Jazz specialist Nick Slater and Bill Bruford of Yes, Genesis and King Crimson fame.
He has actively played drums since that time and performed professionally for nearly 20 years. In addition to his vast experience of live work with numerous bands, Russ has been involved in songwriting, recording, the creation of drum loops and in computer based music production. In 2002, He began teaching and has helped drummers ranging from 8 to 80 years old to discover, or rediscover drumming.
In 2012, Russ scored 2nd place in the UK Heats of Roland’s V-Drum World Championship.
At the classic Roadhouse venue in Birmingham, introduced by Craig Blundell.
"In the Summer of 2001 I was disillusioned – I loathed my job, my boss and felt I’d missed my chance as a Musician. Fifteen years previously I’d fallen into a lucrative career in the computer business, when my first attempt at a professional life in music had prematurely ended. Due to the pressures of working for American IT companies and the long hours (and travel) that went with it, my marriage had failed and with it came the complications of a being a weekend father to my Son. I’d lived alone for nearly a year and was literally at a turning point in my life. Sometimes, you need to hit the lowest ebb before you are willing to hear new information, which could in no uncertain terms, change your life. This was one such time……
Back in those days, I was part of the UK Sales & Marketing team for a large American Semiconductor Manufacturer and only a musician at weekends. It was commonplace that we were expected to attend training courses, to broaden our horizons and skill set. Often these training commitments led to burning the midnight oil to catch up with the work that was missed during business hours, so they were not popular. In this instance, we were to attend a multiple day session, led by the organisation – ‘Speakers International’. We were not informed of the subject matter, just that it was a personal development course. The only positive thing about this course is that it was held within the company offices, although that in itself was to some a negative – since on residential courses and sales conferences, we often spent long hours drinking and socialising in the evenings and therefore paying less attention during the day! The company knew this (and facilitated it via our expense accounts) but this course seemed different somehow and they wanted our full attention. What was clear, well before the training course is that the company was in need of a headcount reduction across its European operation, not that any of us had related the two subjects.
The training course opened with a question to the attendees, to discover the average age of the class. I think we settled on 37 – which coincidentally was to be my age in a few months time. The next part was probably the most visual description of ‘life is too short’ that I’d ever witnessed. The two trainers took a roll of red ribbon and stretched it out to the width of the room, then cut it to size. This was to represent your life. They then promptly cut it in two, discarding the other half, saying ‘You’ve already lived that part, we cannot change it!’ Taking up the scissors once more, they then began to ask the audience of any significant parts of their life that take up a lot of time. For each suggestion, a chunk of ribbon was cut away and thrown in the bin – ‘work’, ‘eating’, ‘family commitments’, ‘travel’, ‘sleep’ were all cut from the lifeline. Eventually, leaving a small piece of red ribbon about two feet long. Then came the trainer’s punchline – ‘this is what is left of your life that you can affect – what are you going to do with it?’ At that point for me, the light bulb went on and I realised I had to make a significant change, or be stuck with other people controlling my life for as long as it lasted.
It was to be the catalyst for my second attempt at a full time music career, and in a few months’ time - the point at which I abandoned my stable and well paid IT job. The first step off this cliff into the unknown, was the single phone call we were allowed at the end of the course to put our future plans in motion. I honestly think I was the only one among my colleagues who decided to make such a major change to my life and career. My phone call was to long-term friend and colleague, Gary Bentley another drummer who often filled in for me, he was also a successful teacher. I asked him to help me with my music theory and help me understand more of what I needed to know in order to become a drum teacher. My other colleagues spent time calling their customers and trying to focus their business lives to get more out of them and do more of the same. The next day I visited the Human Resources department and asked to hear more information about the Voluntary Redundancy scheme. At this point I had been employed by the company for ten years in two separate stints. The rest, as they say is history…….."
30th December 2020
The Prog Heaven Show 2016 in Swindon (photo by Chris Skellern)
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