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Arthur Russell

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Arthur Russell (May 21 1951 - April 4, 1992) was a prodigious talent. Classically trained on cello while growing up in Oskaloosa, Iowa, Arthur studied with Ali Akbar Khan in San Francisco in the early 1970’s.

During this period he also collaborated with Allen Ginsberg, accompanying him on cello while Ginsberg read or sang. Russell also spent time in a Buddhist commune in California; he left when they decided to collectivize his cello.

By the mid-1970’s Russell relocated to New York City, where he studied at The Manhattan School of Music. He formed a band from 1975-1979, The Flying Hearts, recorded by John Hammond and featuring David Byrne, Rhys Chatham, Jon Gibson, Peter Gordon, Jerry Harrison, Garret List, Frank Pagano, Andy Paley, Leni Pickett, and Peter Zummo.

In the late 1970s Russell became enamored with the disco scene in New York. At the time it represented a liberation force, particularly for the gay scene, just a few years after the Stonewall riots. (For more see “Turn the Beat Around: The Secret History of Disco” by Peter Shapiro).

‘Kiss Me Again’ was Russell’s first dance track. Released under the name Dinosaur L by Sirerecords, it was to be the first of many innovative dancefloor tracks released under different names and with different collaborators, such as ‘Is It All Over My Face’ by Loose Joints, released in 1980. In 1982, Arthur Russell and William Socolov founded Sleeping Bag records and their first release was his 24-24 Music. This featured ‘Go Bang’ which was re-mixed as a 12” single by Francois Kevorkian.

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