Tom Russell needs no introduction to most Scottish rock fans; he has been involved in the rock scene for ever; entire eras of music are etched into his face. He has been around an extraordinarily long time, he has seen just about everybody in concert and it would be easier to create a list of people he has not spoken to than to compile the extremely long list of people he has… and at last, he has written a book about it! The book is titled Tom Russell: The Godfather Of Rock.
It is worth starting with what the book is not.
- It is not an autobiography… although it contains autobiographical elements. For example, I learned that Tom trained as a metallurgist. A rock DJ that studied metal! It is almost too good to be true. (It would not surprise me to discover it wasn’t blood but metal that runs through Tom’s veins).
- It is not entirely in chronological order… chapters are organised (more or less) into themes with titles such as: Secret Sessions; Ozzy And Me and Meet Your Heroes.
- It is not all clean, family fun… for example, I am not sure exactly how many stories in the book involve poo but, without thinking too hard, I can remember three (including an unfortunate incident with one of The Nolan Sisters).
- It does not just look back… at the end, there are hints of what is yet to come as he talks briefly about the bid to launch Rock Radio Glasgow (a bid that was successful).
Having said what it is not, I was finding it harder to say what it is, but eventually, I worked out how best to describe it: it is like a group of friends, sitting down, having a laugh and swapping stories.
“Do you remember that time you went water skiing…”,
“Tell us again about helping Jon Bon Jovi push a minibus out of the Radio Clyde car park…”,
“Did you really interview Elton John?”
So, if you want to sit down and have a laugh with Tom Russell, this book is a close approximation to the real thing!
And, yes, he really did meet Elton John.
As I said above, he has pretty much met everyone: from AC/DC to ZZ Top. If you have a rock hero, the chances are Tom has a story to tell. So many stories but, annoyingly, the book has no index, so finding your way back to a tale about a band you like is a bit hit and miss (I’ve already complained to Tom about this!)
What came across loud and clear in the book, is that Tom is a fan of the music. It is not just a job and that is why he is so widely respected. He talks as enthusiastically about new bands as he does about classic lineups. If you want to experience swapping stories with him in real life rather than vicariously through his book, you are likely to find him, pint in hand, at a concert of an artist you both love. For example, I had few words with him last year at the end of a Joanne Shaw Taylor gig. He has been there and done that but, as he said at the book launch, he’s not ready to retire yet. Tom: long may you continue!
If you have an interest in rock music, spend some time in the company of this book. You are certain find something to amuse and entertain.
Ozzy Osbourne calls him: “the man who rocks Glasgow” but his influence has been felt far beyond the West of Scotland. A true rock legend!
Tom Russell: The Godfather Of Rock is out now and can be picked up in many places around the West of Scotland, ordered from Amazon as a paperback or Kindle edition (links support our site), or purchased via Tom’s own site where you can get it signed!