Biography of Al Russ

Al Russ (1918-1998) was a Cleveland, Ohio, orchestra leader, composer, arranger, string bass player, and producer. His career spanned from the 1940s into the 1990s.

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, Russ studied music formally at Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, and New York University in New York, New York. After touring with dance bands and freelancing in New York City, Russ returned to Cleveland in 1949.

Russ' music career in Cleveland was varied and extensive. Among his professional activities were conducting, arranging, and contracting performances featuring nationally renowned artists for the Front Row Theater; conducting Cain Park's summer music programs; composing polkas for polka band leader Frankie Yankovic; writing musical arrangements for nationally known performers such as Perry Como and Steve Lawrence; and writing commercials and jingles for local and national companies. Russ wrote Cleveland's best known commercial jingle, the Aluminum Siding Corporation's (now the Home Corporation) "Garfield one, two-three, two-three."

Much of Russ's work was conducting and playing single engagements, such as conventions where he backed national artists or performing in Cleveland nightclubs such as the Zephyr Room and the Theatrical Grill. His Al Russ Orchestra varied in size from about three to fifteen after its founding in 1949. The orchestra became famous for its interpretations of county and traditional dances. His last engagement was at the Nighttown restaurant in Cleveland Heights, Ohio in the 1990s. Russ died June 12, 1998.