Kelly Russ (1965-2015)

All of my previous death notices have been for popular musicians. This one is for my cousin Kelly who died yesterday after a long sickness.

Kelly Russ, Dwight and Mark Sullivan

Kelly Russ carrying Dwight and Mark Sullivan

Kelly was a really good guy, and a big music fan. He particularly liked the jangly guitar sound first associated with Chapel Hill, NC, and later Hoboken, NJ. As such, his holy grail was the self-titled 7″ EP by Sneakers, an early band featuring Chris Stamey and Will Rigby, who together went on to form the dB’s with Peter Holsapple, along with Mitch Easter, who later recorded as Let’s Active and produced REM’s early albums; the EP was engineered by Don Dixon, who co-produced those early REM albums with Easter, and later produced many of the Hoboken bands, along with many other power pop should-have-been-stars like Tommy Keene.

Kelly finally found the EP on one of the occasional record buying daytrips we took to New York in the ’90s during his visits to Maryland from his home in Louisville, KY. Unfortunately, the 7″ (among other things) was soon lost when my car was broken into just hours later. I was very happy when I later tracked down another copy for him several years later.

Kelly and I largely lost touch over the years, but I still remember his visits and our daytrips to New York as very good times.

Here’s to you, Kelly, the Sneakers covering the Grass Roots:

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