Amor : Memories of Andy Russell©2004JCMarion


Andy Russell was born Andres Rabajos, of Spanish-Mexican parents in Los Angeles in September of 1919. By the time he was a teenager he was a vocalist and drummer with the local band of Don Ramon Cruz. Continuing into the early forties he Anglicized his name to Russell and was vocalist and sometimes drummer with the bands of Johnny Richards, Gus Arnheim, Sonny Dunham, and most notably with Alvino Rey. By 1944 he was well thought of as a pop vocalist and was featured on radio in 1944, and in the next year had his "Old Gold Show". He also began to record with Capitol Records

His first charted hit was in 1944 with "Besame Mucho" on Capitol #149, followed by his breakthrough hit and signature tune "Amor" ( # 156) from the film "Broadway Rhythm". "The Day After Forever" was the other side of his big seller. Two more hits came in 1944 - "What A Difference A Day Made" (# 167) paired with "Don't You Notice Anything New?", and "I Dream Of You" / "Magic Is Moonlight" (#175). "My First, Last, And Only" / "And There You Are" on Capitol # 198 followed. By 1946 Russell was an established singing star and had his fifth chart hit - "I can't Begin To Tell You" ( from the film "The Dolly Sisters") on Capitol # 221. This became the fourth top ten seller in the country for Russell in less than two years and the big time was calling. "If I Had A Wishing Ring" and "Without You" (# 234) soon followed. In mid 1946 Russell had a huge selling two sided hit with "Laughing On The Outside" and "They Say It's Wonderful" (from the Broadway show "Annie Get Your Gun") on # 252. The record was on the charts for more than three months and got as high as number four in the country. "Pretending" on # 271 ( "Who Do You Love" ) was another big top ten seller. "You Are Everything" was a promising tune (# 310)While Russell was scoring with record buyers, he also was 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 in 1947 appeared in the picture "Copacabana".

In 1946 he was asked to take the place of Frank Sinatra on the pop music radio program "Your Hit Parade" ( for which Sinatra returned in 1947) which led to increased popularity for the singer. The song "I'll Close My Eyes" on # 342 was a moderate seller (backed with "It's Dreamtime"), but his version of "Anniversary Waltz" (# 368) from the film "The Jolson Story" was another big seller getting into the top four in sales ( the flip side was the song "My Best To You"). "Je Vous Aime" from the film "Copacabana" released on Capitol # 417 was his last charted hit of 1947. "On The Old Spanish Trail" and "All Of My Love" was released on # 432 and "When The White Roses Bloom" and "True" were released by Capitol on # 450 in late 1947. The seasonal "The First Noel" came out in December of 1947 with Capitol's new numbering system (1500 series) on #15013. "Easter Parade" was released to take advantage of the film of the same name which starred Fred Astaire and Judy Garland which had its opening at that time. "I Cried For You" was on the other side of the record (# 15034). Another song featured in the picture "It Only Happens When I Dance With You" was paired with "If I Were You" on # 15086 followed in early 1948. "Long After Tonight" and "What Do I Have To Do" on # 15055 was held back on release but had seemed to have gotten lost in the spate of new recordings in such a short time. In 1948 his version of the British hit song "Underneath The Arches" (# 15183) with The Pied Pipers and Paul Weston's Orchestra was a big seller ( with "Just For Me") that remained on the charts for three months. "Too Soon" and "If We Can't Be Sweethearts" was released on # 15281, with a later version having "It's Too Late To Know" paired with "Sweethearts".

In the early 1950s Russell appeared on early television with "Your Show Of Shows" with Sid Caesar for NBC, but recorded less frequently such as "Welcome To My World" on Capitol #2009, "My Heart Had Windows" and "Someone Else's Arms" was released in the spring of 1952. "Imagination" and "Let's Fall In Love" on # 20034, and "I'll See You In My Dreams" and "Just Friends" on # 20036 followed. By now the hits for Russell had stopped and so Capitol Records lost interest in him as a hit making pop star. This was especially true as the rock 'n roll age was rapidly approaching and Capitol like the other major labels looked on with a great deal of apprehension. Russell also realized at this point in time that he commanded a great deal of popularity in Mexico and he began to spend time there and performing for his fans. He occasionally recorded for RCA Victor Records in the mid 1950s with such releases as "One Is A Lonely Number" and "Day Dream" on # 6902, "A certain Smile" and "Seven Daughters" on # 7299, and "As Young As We Are" on # 7335.

By the late 1950s Russell moved to Mexico City and then to Argentina where he had a successful television variety show that ran for seven years. In the mid nineteen sixties he moved back to the U.S. for a time and had a successful LP album recorded for Capitol called "Such A Pretty World Today" on LP # 2803. Other albums released were "The Magic Of Andy" for Capitol # 1470, "Your Love Is Everywhere" # 2009, and "More Amor" on #2659. Two Argentina LPs that were well received were "Andy" and "Los Discos Del Million" and in 1982 "Yesterday, Now, And Forever" for Kim, and "Unlimited" for ELF. He continued to appear and perform, but by the mid eighties he was largely forgotten. Andy Russell passed away in Phoenix, Arizona in April of 1992 at age 72.

Andy Russell remains today, largely unremembered and unappreciated. He was one of the more underrated singers of the Interlude Era which is something of a misfortune for those who remember the golden era of American pop standards. There are two CDs that are available containing the music of Andy Russell. "My Heart Sings" for Mr. Music contains seven vocal tracks by Russell, and "Spotlight On Andy Russell" for Capitol contains eighteen tracks by the singer, however not all his big hits are represented for some unexplained reason. As they say something is better than nothing so we have to make do with what is available in order to remember this great performer from the past - Andy Russell.

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