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Russell Morris is the real thing

18 Aug 2020

Russell Morris is the real thing

Multi ARIA Award-winning Australian singer-songwriter and guitarist Russell Morris has had a career spanning more than 50 years (and still counting). With five Australian Top 10 singles during the late 1960s and early 1970s he was the first Australian artist to score consecutive number one singles with his first two releases The Real Thing and Part Three Into Paper Walls.

Russell’s band Somebody’s Image, formed in Melbourne when he was just 18, brought him to the attention of Molly Meldrum, then a writer at Go-Set. Molly went on to manage the band from early 1967 and the two became good friends. And it was with support from Molly’s that the band secured a deal with EMI Records. But it was only when they both left Somebody’s Image in 1968 that Russell’s solo career, with Molly as his manager and producer, really took off.

Released in 1969, Russell’s debut single The Real Thing is undoubtably one of the epic psychedelic anthems of the 60s. Written by Johnny Young, The Real Thing was originally intended to be a slow and simple acoustic chamber ballad backed by strings in the style of The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever. However, in Molly’s hands the track was transformed into a heavily produced studio masterpiece as he overdubbed the basic track with many additional instruments, vocals and sound effects.

Taking more than eight months to record and influenced by The Beatles, The Kinks and Donovan the single reportedly cost $10,000 to make, which was the typical budget for a full album in the 60s. At an unheard of six and a half minutes in duration it was also the longest pop single recorded in Australia at that time. Radio programmers were reluctant to play it at first due to its length, but The Real Thing went on to be the biggest selling Australian single of the year.

After his early success, followed by an unsuccessful attempt to break into the United States, Russell settled down to touring and playing in cover bands before he wrote Sharkmouth in 2012, the first album in what would become a platinum-selling, ARIA-winning blues-rock trilogy.

With no expectation for Sharkmouth, and little interest from Australian record companies, it was a something of a surprise when Robert Rigby’s label Ambition Entertainment took a chance on the blues album and Russell found himself in the midst of a late career revival.

Sharkmouth easily outsold his early hits and Russell began making headway in the United States performing at Nashville’s Americana Music Festival, as well as touring American cities.

Now in his 70s, and living on the Gold Coast, Russell shows no sign of slowing down. His move to a warmer climate seems to have inspired a prolific creative output which saw him write more than 35 songs in three months.

His most recent album, Black and Blue Heart was recorded in La Cueva Studios near Byron Bay and co-produced by Powderfinger frontman Bernard Fanning. A long-time admirer of Powderfinger, Russell and Bernard brought together a crack band of musicians to bring the new album to life and it was released to critical acclaim in 2019.

We can’t wait to see this legendary musician in the cosy setting of our Lakeside Room, it’s sure to be a truly special evening. Last few remaining tickets here.