Jackie Russell

Born March 18, 1940, Richard Russell spent his first 19 years in a rural outcropping of Columbus, Georgia. He began singing with the Sensational Swans gospel quartet while attending Columbus’ Spencer High School. After moving to Cleveland’s Hough neighborhood in 1959, Russell spent the early 1960s with various small-time vocal groups, then broke out solo under the tutelage of John Senior. After a Music Box show bill announced him as Jackie Russell, the new name stuck. Russell turned up at Boddie in 1967 to audition his trembling “Don’t Trade Love For Money” and was signed on the spot, bumping Frankie Pighee’s 45 to become the first Soul Kitchen artist to see release. The disc flopped, but Russell recalls a few DJs discovering the up-tempo B-side stomper “If You Don’t Want Me Let Me Be.” Back in Georgia, Russell chose to continue recording and pressing records with the Boddies in Cleveland. Two 45s were issued back-to-back in 1970 on Russell’s own Double R imprint under his birth name, both of them featuring “Nobody Can Stop Me” on the b-side. But Russell was never able to escape his day job laying carpet, a vocation he entered shortly after moving to Cleveland and kept at his entire working life. In 1985, he returned to Union Avenue to inject his floor-covering expertise into an innuendo-laden theme song. Issued on the Only One imprint under the name Rick Russell, “I Wanna Lay Your Carpet” went down the way of Russell’s established career trajectory. With his commercial aspirations on the cut pile, Russell turned his attentions to the Gethsemane Baptist Church choir. He still resides in Cleveland today, though his advanced Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and a brutal mugging have left him unable to sing.

Jackie Russell Appears on: