Russell Mael

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Russell Mael
FFS (Franz Ferdinand & Sparks) @ Albert Hall, Manchester 25-8-2015 (20719607009).jpg
Mael performing live at the Albert Hall in Manchester, England, 2015
Background information
Birth nameRussell Craig Mael[1]
Born (1948-10-05) October 5, 1948 (age 70)
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • engineer
  • film director
Years active1965–present
Associated acts

Russell Craig Mael (born October 5, 1948)[1] is an American singer, songwriter and record producer.

Mael's music career spans more than 50 years. With his elder brother Ron, he formed the pop band Sparks in 1971, which was renamed from Halfnelson. He is also the co-founder of Lil' Beethoven Records.

Early life[edit]

Russell Craig Mael was born on October 5, 1948, in Los Angeles, California. The Mael brothers grew up in Pacific Palisades - a relatively affluent suburb of Los Angeles - with their father, Meyer (of Russian and Austrian Jewish descent),[2][3] who was a graphic designer and caricaturist for the Hollywood Citizen-News,[4][5] and their mother, Miriam (née Moskowitz), a librarian.[6] After being educated at Palisades High School (where Russell, in the "Class of '65" alongside Michael Medved and David Wallechinsky, played as quarterback for the Palisades High School Dolphins), both brothers enrolled at UCLA;[7] Ron began a course in Cinema and Graphic Arts in 1963 while Russell studied Theater Arts and Filmmaking between 1966–1968.[8]


Well known for his wide vocal range, Mael's most notable vocal trait is a far-reaching falsetto, especially evident on songs such as "Equator" from Sparks' Kimono My House album.[9] He is also known for his flamboyant and hyperactive stage presence which contrasted sharply with Ron Mael's deadpan scowling.

He has recorded 23 albums with his band, Sparks.[10] The band has a cult following around the world and are best known for the song "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" which reached No. 2 on the UK Singles Chart.[11]

The pair appeared as themselves in the 1977 disaster film Rollercoaster, performing live. They also appeared in episode twenty-two of season six of the Gilmore Girls.

In June 2018, Edgar Wright announced he is making a documentary on the band Sparks.[12] He had covered the band’s concert in London in May at the O2 Forum in Kentish Town. This concert will also be a part of the documentary.[13][14]


With Sparks

Year Album
1971 Halfnelson
1973 A Woofer in Tweeter's Clothing
1974 Kimono My House
1974 Propaganda
1975 Indiscreet
1976 Big Beat
1977 Introducing Sparks
1979 No. 1 in Heaven
1980 Terminal Jive
1981 Whomp That Sucker
1982 Angst in My Pants
1983 In Outer Space
1984 Pulling Rabbits Out of a Hat
1986 Music That You Can Dance To
1988 Interior Design
1994 Gratuitous Sax & Senseless Violins
1997 Plagiarism
2000 Balls
2002 Lil' Beethoven
2006 Hello Young Lovers
2009 Exotic Creatures of the Deep
2017 Hippopotamus

With FFS

Year Album
2015 FFS


  1. ^ a b California Birth Index, 1905 - 1995
  2. ^ "1940 United States Federal Census". Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  3. ^ Axelrod, Merry Anne. "Re: (It's A Samuel) Mael World". Retrieved November 8, 2012. [The author is a cousin of Russell and Ron; her father, Alvin, is listed as being Meyer's brother on the 1940 census]
  4. ^ "Myer Mael: "Roy Rogers" Object Record". Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  5. ^ "Harrietta Hughes on the cover of Republic Insider Magazine 1947". Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  6. ^ Lorente-Darracq, Xavier. "Ron Mael and Russell Mael - Biography". Graphik Designs. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  7. ^ Welch, Chris. "Bright Sparks". Melody Maker. Retrieved November 8, 2012.
  8. ^ Lorente-Darracq, Xavier. "op. cit". Graphik Designs. Missing or empty |url= (help); |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  9. ^
  10. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Sparks: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
  11. ^ "Singles". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
  12. ^ "Edgar Wright to Tackle 70s Cult Band "Sparks" in New Documentary". Collider. June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  13. ^ "Edgar Wright's Next Film is Pop-Rock Documentary About Sparks". June 21, 2018. Retrieved June 22, 2018.
  14. ^ Sharf, Zack (June 21, 2018). "Edgar Wright's Next Film Is a Documentary on Cult Pop-Rock Band Sparks — Exclusive". IndieWire. Retrieved June 22, 2018.

External links[edit]