Andy Russell (singer)
Andy Russell in 1966
|Birth name||Andrés Rabago Pérez|
September 16, 1919|
Boyle Heights, Los Angeles
|Died||April 16, 1992
Sun City, Arizona
He was born Andrés Rabago Pérez in the Boyle Heights area of East Los Angeles. He was one of ten children (eight boys, two girls) born to parents who were Mexican immigrants of Spanish descent. By the time he was a teenager he had begun to perform as a vocalist and drummer with a local band headed by Don Ramon Cruz. In the early forties he Anglicized his name (Andy was obvious, but "Russell" was after the singer Russ Columbo). He became vocalist and drummer with the bands of Johnny Richards, Gus Arnheim, Sonny Dunham, and Alvino Rey. By 1944, he had become well enough regarded a pop vocalist to be featured on radio, and in the next year had his Old Gold Show. He also signed on with Capitol Records.
His first charted hit was "Bésame Mucho" (Capitol #149, 1944). The same year he had his biggest hit, which became his signature tune, "Amor" (Capitol #156, with the flip side "The Day After Forever") from the film Broadway Rhythm He had two more hits that year: "What a Difference a Day Made" (Capitol #167, paired with "Don't You Notice Anything New?") and "I Dream of You"/"Magic Is Moonlight" (Capitol #175). He had another big hit in 1946 with "I Can't Begin to Tell You" (Capitol #221) from the film "The Dolly Sisters." That became the fourth top ten seller in the country for Russell in less than two years and the big time was calling. The next big hit came later in 1946: a two-sided hit with "Laughing on the Outside" and "They Say It's Wonderful" (from the Broadway show Annie Get Your Gun) (Capitol #252). His next hit, "Pretending" (Capitol #271, backed with "Who Do You Love"), was another top-ten seller. He was also invited to Hollywood and screen-tested for motion pictures. In 1946 he appeared in The Stork Club and Breakfast In Hollywood. He was on the soundtrack of Walt Disney's Make Mine Music, and appeared in the picture Copacabana the next year. In 1946, the people running the pop music radio program Your Hit Parade asked him to take the place of Frank Sinatra (Sinatra returned in 1947). This led to increased popularity for the singer.
Russell appeared in the new medium of television in the early 1950s on Your Show of Shows with Sid Caesar on NBC, but continued to record, though less frequently. By 1952, Russell's hits had stopped coming, so Capitol Records lost interest in him as a hit-making pop star. Especially, as the rock 'n roll age was beginning to dawn, Capitol (like the other major labels) began to look on with negative feeling. Russell realized at this point in time that he was still quite popular in Mexico, so he began to spend time there performing for his fans. He occasionally recorded for RCA Victor Records in the mid-1950s.
In the late-1950s, Russell moved to Mexico City, and later to Argentina. In the latter country, he had a successful television variety show that ran for seven years. El Show de IKA was sponsored by the nation's largest automaker, Industrias Kaiser Argentina (IKA). A Jeep was driven on the stage during every performance with dancers as well as a 50-piece orchestra and choir accompanying Russell. It was the most expensive TV show produced in that country and the first to use cameras mounted high above the stage.
In the mid-1960s, he moved back to the United States for a time and went back to Capitol, making a few LP albums. He also made some LPs for the Argentine market that were well received. Though he continued to appear and perform, by the mid-eighties he was generally forgotten. Exceptions to this rule were his 1967 Capitol singles "It's Such a Pretty World Today" and "I'm Still Not Through Missing You", which achieved top ten status on Billboard's Easy Listening chart.
|Song||Date recorded||Date entered Billboard magazine best-selling record chart||Highest position||Weeks on chart||Catalog number||Notes|
|"Bésame Mucho"||December 17, 1943||April 13, 1944||10||2||Capitol 149||with Al Sack orchestra|
|"Amor"||March 10, 1944||May 15, 1944||5||8||Capitol 156||with Al Sack orchestra|
|"I Dream of You"||December 21, 1944||5||3||Capitol 175|
|"I Can't Begin to Tell You"||December 27, 1945||8||2||Capitol 221|
|"Laughing on the Outside (Crying on the Inside)"||February 28, 1946||May 2, 1946||4||7||Capitol 252||with Paul Weston orchestra|
|"Pretending"||May 17, 1946||October 4, 1946||10||1||Capitol 271||with Paul Weston orchestra|
|"Anniversary Song"||November 15, 1946||March 14, 1947||5||2||Capitol 368||with Paul Weston orchestra|
|"Underneath the Arches"||October 1, 1948||21||5||Capitol 15183|
- Lees, Gene (2006). Portrait of Johnny: The Life of John Herndon Mercer. Hal Leonard. p. 172. ISBN 978-0-634-09929-8.
- Amor: Memories of Andy Russell (Biography/discography of Andy Russell) on The Interlude Era site
- Sheinin, David (2006). Argentina and the United States: an alliance contained. University of Georgia Press. pp. 102–103. ISBN 978-0-8203-2809-6. Retrieved 15 January 2011.
- Find-a-Grave entry on Andy Russell