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Johnny Russell: yup, he wrote that one too

By Joel Bernstein, June 2000

Page 2...

Of the latter, Russell says, "I had just gotten a divorce. I got off the interstate one evening, and thought to myself 'I got no reason for going home.' By the time I got to my house, I had the chorus and a verse written. Later, I went out to Nashville Now to see Gene - we'd worked a lot of shows together - and I handed him a tape and said, being funny, 'Cut it!.' He said 'I'll listen to it.' I said, 'I can get anyone to listen to it. Cut it!'

"Let's Fall To Pieces" was a co-write with Dickey Lee and Tommy Rocco. "We were writing one day, and we got stuck. Dickey got on the phone, Tommy went into his office, and I dozed off. Then suddenly Tommy came in and yelled out the title. After that it came together pretty fast."

Russell's hits as a singer were with songs written by others. "The songs I write weren't the type I was recording. And it seemed like I could make more money this way."

With identity theft running rampant nowadays, Russell can show that it's not a new problem. "A guy came up to me in a club and said 'Why do you let somebody else sing the records, and you work the shows?' He said his friend told him he was singing on my records, but I wouldn't let him work the road. I told him to call his friend to come down to the club, and we'd straighten it out, but the guy never came over."

In the early '60's, "There were two singers named Bobby Edwards. I knew them both. The one from California is the one that had the big record ("You're The Reason"). The other one, from Alabama, came to Nashville claiming it was him. He even fooled me. The one who had the record was a real bad singer, and I figured he could never have a hit record. I had met him at Terry Fell's studio in California" where the record was made.

The Alabama Edwards (nee Robert Moncrief) fooled almost everyone - including music historians. His lone charted record, "Don't Pretend," was a cowrite with Johnny Russell.

Like many others, Russell is not thrilled with the current state of country music. "Every other form of music respects their heroes and legends. The new crop of country radio people don't respect Ernest Tubb, Merle Haggard and Webb Pierce. The two worst things that ever happened to country music are country radio and the CMA."

"Everything now is positive. That's not the way life is. Country music told what life was like, but radio stations now want all positive things."

However, Russell is positive about his own career. "I'm just really proud of this album. I listened to it and called Hugh and thanked him. I had really missed recording and didn't realize it. Now we're already talking about the next one. I'm really looking forward to doing it." >br>

Photo of Russell in Nashville by Morrello/Ghergia

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