Calvin Russell – Fighting Sorrow in Modern Times
American blues/rock musician Calvin Russell died April 3, 2011, from liver cancer at the age of 62. He was sick for a couple of years before he died. Russell’s given name was Calvert Russell Kosler, the son of an Austin, Texas waitress and a cook. He had a hard-scrabble life, having difficulty in school and doing time in prison for forgery and drugs.
Although he learned to play guitar when he was young, and was in his first band The Cavemen at 13, he didn’t become famous until 1989 when his song “Crack in Time” was released in France and became a hit in Europe. He had given a demo tape to a French record label representative after he played at a house party. Russell spent years before that hanging out with the likes of Rich Minus, Jubal Clark and Townes Van Zandt, writing songs, then he spent years in Europe, before he came back to Texas.
Over the course of his musical career, he released more than 15 albums, with raw tunes like “Rats & Roaches,” “Wagon to Stars” and “One Meatball.” His hit “Crack in Time” was on several of his albums. His lyrics were as hard and unique as his leathery physical appearance that is a large part of his popular mystique. Critics and fans alike are attracted to his rebellious streak and raging fire and admire his ability to craft his life experiences into his songs.
Russell blended melancholy blues and rock into a roaring hybrid of country, roots, blues and rock that was all his own. He called himself “an outlaw rock and roll soldier fighting sorrow in modern times.” It endeared him as a son of Texas. He wrote and sang of love and longing, hard reality and gritty lifescapes, and gripped his audience with his loud and lyrical musical style.