Russell Mael

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Russell Mael
Russell Mael photographed for Los Angeles Times.jpg
Russell Mael from the band Sparks, photographed for Los Angeles Times on May 10, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
Background information
Birth name Russell Craig Mael[1]
Born (1948-10-05) October 5, 1948 (age 67)
Los Angeles, California, United States
Genres Rock, pop
Occupation(s) Singer-songwriter, producer, recording engineer, director
Instruments Vocals
Years active 1965–present
Labels Bearsville, Warner Bros., Island, Atlantic, Curb, Virgin, CBS, Elektra, RCA, Roadrunner, Lil' Beethoven Records
Associated acts Halfnelson, Sparks, FFS, Franz Ferdinand

Russell Craig Mael (born October 5, 1948 in Santa Monica, California)[2][3] is an American singer and songwriter who, with his elder brother Ron, formed the band Sparks in 1971, which was renamed from Halfnelson. He is also the co-founder of Lil' Beethoven Records.


Early life[edit]

The Mael brothers grew up in Pacific Palisades - a relatively affluent suburb of Los Angeles - with their father, Meyer Mael (of Russian and Austrian Jewish descent),[4][5] who was a graphic designer and caricaturist for the Hollywood Citizen-News,[6][7] and their mother, Miriam (née Moskowitz), a librarian.[8] 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;[9] Ron began a course in Cinema and Graphic Arts in 1963 while Russell studied Theater Arts and Filmmaking between 1966-1968.[10]


Main article: Sparks (band)

Well known for his wide vocal range, Russell's most notable vocal trait is a far-reaching falsetto, especially evident on songs such as "Equator" from Sparks' Kimono My House album.[citation needed] He is also known for his flamboyant and hyperactive stage presence.

He has recorded 22 albums with his band, Sparks.[11] 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 number 2 in the U.K. Singles Chart.[12]

The pair appear 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 2015, Sparks collaborated with the Scottish group Franz Ferdinand under the identity FFS. One of their first tracks was entitled "Collaborations Don't Work". The supergroup was interviewed on BBC Radio 6 on April 27, 2015 and announced they would be appearing on "Live with Jools Holland" on April 30th 2015 and were to appear at Glastonbury Festival that summer.


  1. ^ California Birth Index, 1905 - 1995, [1] (Birth Date: May 10, 1948, County of Birth: Los Angeles, Mother's Maiden Name: Moskowski)
  2. ^ Family Tree Legends
  3. ^ Russell Mael at the Internet Movie Database
  4. ^ "1940 United States Federal Census". Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  5. ^ 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]
  6. ^ "Myer Mael: "Roy Rogers" Object Record". Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  7. ^ "Harrietta Hughes on the cover of Republic Insider Magazine 1947". Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  8. ^ Lorente-Darracq, Xavier. "Ron Mael and Russell Mael - Biography". Graphik Designs. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  9. ^ Welch, Chris. "Bright Sparks". Melody Maker. Retrieved November 8, 2012. 
  10. ^ Lorente-Darracq, Xavier. "op. cit.". Graphik Designs. 
  11. ^ Ankeny, Jason. "Sparks: Biography". Allmusic. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 
  12. ^ "Singles". Chart Stats. Archived from the original on July 23, 2012. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 

External links[edit]