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Russell was born in Austin, Texas, on 1 November 1948. At age 12, Russell began learning guitar and at 13 joined a band called The Cavemen. In 1989, he met Patrick Mathe of the French record label, New Rose Records, while at a party in Austin and gave him a demo tape intended for noted Austin guitarist and producer, Charlie Sexton.

He would go on to sign with the label releasing his first solo album in 1990 entitled A Crack In Time. In promotion of the album, Russell began touring extensively throughout Europe achieving a level of success he had yet to obtain back in the United States.

Russell would go on to release over a dozen albums on various labels. Throughout his career, he battled with drug and alcohol addiction and was arrested in Texas for cocaine possession in 1995.

On 3 April 2011, Russell died in Garfield, Texas, after a lengthy battle with liver cancer at the age of 62. He is survived by Swiss-born wife, Cynthia, who continues to live in Central Texas and son, Justin.

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