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Russell Smith of Amazing Rhythm Aces dies

Monday, July 15, 2019 – Russell Smith, the lead singer of Amazing Rhythm Aces, died on Friday of cancer at 70.

Smith was the writer behind the band's biggest hits "Third Rate Romance" and "Amazing Grace (Used to be Her Favorite Song)." He also was the lead singer of the country novelty group Run C&W.

Smith played with member of the Aces in Fatback, a local Knoxville, Tenn. band in the alte '60 and early '70s. The Aces formed in Memphis in 1972 mixing country, pop and blue-eyed soul.

The Amazing Rhythm Aces debuted in 1975 with "Stacked Deck." The disc yielded the hits "Third Rate Romance" and "Amazing Grace..." The group later won a Grammy for "The End is Not in Sight (The Cowboy Tune" from the "Too Stuffed to Jump Album."

The group released several more albums before disbanding. Smith forged a solo career along with a successful songwriting career. He signed with Epic Records in 1988 and released his debut album, "This Little Town," the following year. His highest-charting single, "I Wonder What She's Doing Tonight," peaked at 37 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart in 1989. In 1993, Smith became the lead singer of bluegrass novelty group Run C&W, which also included Bernie Leadon, Jim Photoglo and Vince Melamed.

Smith wrote chart topping songs for Randy Travis ("Look Heart, No Hands"), T. Graham Brown ("Don't Go to Strangers"), Don Williams ("Heartbeat in the Darkness"), and Ricky Van Shelton ("Keep It Between the Lines"). He also penned "Big Ole Brew" which became a number 3 country music hit for Mel McDaniel in 1982.

The Aces reformed in 1994 and released several more albums.

CD reviews for Amazing Rhythm Aces

Chock Full of Country Goodness
The title of Amazing Rhythm Aces' latest is just what this CD says it is: a rich and filling collection of ballads, love songs and Southern culture, expressed from the heart and the lighter side of life. The subtitle is "Chef's Specialties," and each song's subtitle is an meal description that sets the mood. "The Rock" is a soulful ballad about how sometimes a weight holding you down is actually an anchor providing stability in relationships. This song should come with a "Don't Drink & Listen" »»»
Out of the Blue
One of the arch fiends of the Twentieth Century is the rapscallion who absconded with all the master tapes of the Amazing Rhythm Aces great '70's albums, leaving their classic output totallyunavailable on CD. In the years since the band broke up, its members have all remained musically active. Lead singer Russell Smith became a major songwriter, penning hits for the likes of Randy Travis and Ricky Van Shelton and seeing his masterpiece, "Third Rate Romance," become a hit all over again for Sammy Kershaw. »»»
Editorial: Walking the talk – When names like Hank Williams, Johnny Cash, Waylon and the Hag are invoked, you're talking hard core country. These are the touchstones of country , the guys who made country music what it was and still is (or maybe can be). When these folks would sing about being down-and-out and the rough-and-tumble, they knew of what they were singing about. Fast forward a few years to the country singers of today. »»»
Concert Review: Carlile takes her chances on feeling "Blue" – During a rare moment sitting at the piano and appropriately dressed in blue, Brandi Carlile paraphrased a memorable Joni Mitchell quote. Basically, it went that, if you listen to Joni Mitchell music and only picture Mitchell - but not yourself - something is wrong. While Carlile, who performed Mitchell's "Blue" album in its entirety for... »»»
Concert Review: The Head and the Heart go beyond the nah nahs – "Nah nah," "la la" and "Wee oh" populated a number of songs from The Head and the Heart. Yes, the Seattle-based band does pen a good amount of sing-along songs that were clearly designed that way. And while that style can certainly engage and energize a crowd, there was more to that from the sextet.... »»»
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