Remembered for his 1986 avant-garde recording World of Echo, Russell is also notable for posthumously-released albums titled Love is Overtaking Me, Another Thought, and Calling Out of Context. Popular in New York City's 1970s and '80s underground music scene, he composed work in a variety of genres, including disco, classical, and rock.
In his early adulthood years, he trained at the Ali Akbar College of Music; the San Francisco Conservatory of Music; and the Manhattan School of Music.
Tragically, he died of AIDS in his early forties.
Born and raised in Oskaloosa, Iowa, he later lived in both San Francisco and New York. He had a number of relationships with both men and women, the most enduring of which was a domestic partnership with printer Tom Lee.
He collaborated with Beat poet Allen Ginsberg.