Philadelphia-born Russell Thompkins, Jr. To be the baby-faced, smooth, and also sexy falsetto voice, the steering force, and also original command singer the R&B group the Stylistics. The top performers gave us together memorable hits as human being Make the people Go Round, Break as much as Makeup, You room Everything, and also Betcha by Golly Wow.
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The Stylistics were developed in the late 60s and also skyrocketed increase the R&B and pop charts through their smooth harmonies. Russell’s silky vocal quality combined magnificently through the arrangements developed by the legendary songwriter and also producer Thom Bell, who imported techniques he had perfected with the R&B and soul group, The Delfonics.
The Stylistics have actually earned seven gold albums, 5 gold singles, two dual gold singles, eight platinum albums, one twin platinum album, and also four platinum singles. Whew! The group likewise earned a Grammy nomination in 1974 for the classic ballad, You do Me feel Brand New.
In 2000, after ~ 33 years, Russell battered the Stylistics due to mental and also physical pressures from the group. Additionally, he lost his beautiful falsetto voice. Russell rest for around a year and also thankfully, his vocal gift returned. In 2002, he had the possibility to document a solo album, A issue of Style.
In 2003, Russell debuted his own group: Russell Thompkins, Jr. And also the brand-new Stylistics. The discord between Russell and his old bandmates is apparent because on his website he has a disclaimer that reads:
If you acquisition tickets or check out advertisements for the Stylistics or the Stylistics Review, you will not view Russell Thompkins, Jr.
The breakup in between Russell and also the original Stylistics was not an amicable one and also is a topic that can get the performer pretty fired up. Russell contends the after his separation native the group, the original Stylistics members to be trying to protect against him indigenous performing and are still law so to this very day. Russell has actually chosen to rise over the disharmonious situation with his previous singing crew because he and also the existing members of his new Stylistics group–Raymond Johnson and also Jonathan Buckson–are doing rather well as they proceed to tour.
Russell inherited his vocal talent indigenous his so late father who was also with a to sing group yet who later went solo. Russell’s singing voice really began to acquire noticed throughout high school as soon as he became a member of the Monarchs. A institution talent show carried Russell along with the men who would end up being the future Stylistics.
In 1968, the R&B team was solidified and two years later, they had actually their first hit solitary which was played regionally, You’re a big Girl Now. after signing through an also larger record company, Avco, their solitary was given national airplay and it shot up the charts. The record company introduced the group to Bell, who had actually reservations about working v them however who shortly acquiesced. The stellar record producer zeroed in top top Russell’s exceptional vocal talent and also most that the group’s most memorable access time were particularly crafted to feature his reassuring falsetto vocals.
Besides Thom Bell, Russell has worked with other greats like the so late Van McCoy, Kenny Gamble, Leon Huff, and Burt Bacharach. Russell bring to the table an unequaled level the passion, talent, devotion, and professionalism to his craft. He is committed to offering his loyal fans that 30 year plus through the same high quality of music and showmanship the they have pertained to know and also love.
Russell, that is performing at various venues transparent the country, wanted to open up up about his life so the his gaianation.net pan can catch up with him.
gaianation.net: You have actually one that the best silky-smooth falsetto voices of ours time. As soon as did you establish you can use her gift because that singing? In addition, I read somewhere that you heard the pop singer Frankie Valli of The four Seasons sing and how the actually inspired you as well.
Russell: My father to be a singer, a baritone falsetto. He verified me approaches when I first started to build my falsetto voice. The thing around Frankie Valli, once I very first heard him sing falsetto, ns really chosen it and also I stated to myself, “Yes, I deserve to do that too!”
gaianation.net: preserving your falsetto voice, i know, can’t be easy. Do you perform anything holistically or otherwise to store your vocals in tip-top shape? Falsetto voices tend to readjust as one it s okay older but yours definitely has not!
Russell: I had actually a couple of problems v my voice. As soon as I an initial began singing, ns had difficulty with mine vocals over numerous days due to the fact that I would lose my voice after only singing because that one day. After being on the roadway for a while, mine voice got a little bit stronger. And also over the years, my vocals gained stronger and stronger. However, ~ 33 years of making use of my voice to the maximum, I started experiencing some vocal issues. It to be at this suggest that i left singing v the original team in 2000.
I took a tiny time off. It’s a funny thing because during that time, a the majority of other singers were having trouble v their voices. The singer/actress Julie Andrews was having troubles with her voice. The rocker rod Stewart likewise experienced some vocal issues as well as a few other singers. They were having operations to eliminate vocal chord nodules. These performers were making comebacks and also their voices no sounding right. Julie andrews actually lost her voice altogether. I made decision just to rest my voice. During my time off, I went to music school and studied piano and music theory. After ns rested for a while, mine voice came back, and it to be then that I chose to make a comeback with the new group in 2003.
Since I’ve begun performing again, i haven’t had actually too lot of a vocal problem. I’ve just had the regular worries that numerous singers experience after screaming at the top of their lungs every night. (laughs)
gaianation.net: you have functioned with the an excellent songwriter, arranger and record producer, Thom Bell. He provided you together compositions as You space Everything, Betcha by Golly Wow; Stop, Look, Listen, civilization Make the world Go Round; I could go on and also on! These standard songs do you one of the many sought after R&B balladeers. What to be it prefer working through Thom? to be you a fan of the songs that i mentioned, or did friend have any kind of reservations around any that them?
Russell: I had no reservations around any the the songs we performed. I loved them ideal from the begin as quickly as ns listened come them in Thom’s office. It’s funny, i knew nothing about Tommy Bell! Tommy was the writer the the songs that i was singing at the moment at nightclubs and also other venues since I no have any songs. I discovered out that he to be the talent that was working through The Delfonics. William Hart, the lead singer that The Delfonics was one of my favourite tenors.
Tommy was actually the one who gave me my vocal identity. I sang falsetto but he actually gave me a sound. He provided me the music that ns sing to this very day. When I very first walked into Tommy’s office that said, “The an initial thing we are going to perform is carry that high voice down!” He lugged my voice down to a level that was manageable. I didn’t favor his suggestions at an initial but as the years ensued, I discovered that he provided me one of the ideal gifts ever. Even after years of not being able to sing together I used to once I to be younger, I can still song those Tommy Bell songs.
gaianation.net: Wow, that’s so interesting! I recognize you operated with Bell until 1974. Why did you guys component company?
Russell: I think there were difficulties with Tommy Bell and also the document company. Tommy Bell is also a funny kind of guy. That works v the human being whom no one else desires to work with and helps them end up being successful. He left united state for The Spinners.
Part of what inspired Tommy to develop his music was to take those folks nobody want to work with and mold them into successes. Almost everyone Tommy functioned with came to be successful.
Tommy left throughout the time that I want to leave the Stylistics. I also began having problems working with the other males in the group roughly the time that Tommy left. I was actually going to leaving at the time but when I had actually a conversation with an additional tenor, he convinced me come stay. The tenor was Eddie Kendricks the The Temptations. Eddie told me, “You know just how many world you are feeding? all of those guys on stage with girlfriend now and also their families, and also their children, they’re every counting on you right now. Friend think about what you room doing before you carry out it.”
After mine conversation v Eddie, i wound up staying for an additional 33 years. Psychic you, points did not acquire any much better for me however it to be a discovering process.
gaianation.net: Why go you want to leaving at that time?
Russell: We just weren’t obtaining it together. The men would not action up. Top top the three albums, we did v Tommy Bell, castle didn’t song on them. Only among the men sang on two songs. The sang on You Are everything and You do Me feel Brand New. as soon as we would certainly go top top the road people would say, “Ya’ll don’t sound favor the record.” The reason why we didn’t sound choose the record was the the team members no on the record!
When Tommy left, we began working through Van McCoy. Among the stipulations I had with the new record firm was that they had to use everyone in the group. Ns told them to at least let us go the end on the road and also sound prefer the music that we are making. The world in the group were one of two people reluctant come work, or the record firm just didn’t desire to use them. A rift developed between united state that mounted and mounted. It actually took 33 years for the tension to obtain to a point where it started to influence me mentally and physically. I had actually to leave the group!
gaianation.net: What is her favorite Stylistics ballad that you never get worn down of singing and why?
Russell: I never ever get exhausted of singing Betcha by Golly Wow. It seems choose the tune was created for me yet it wasn’t. (laughs) At the moment I to be recording every one of those songs, my life was going v what we were singing about. Once my wife Florence and also I very first got together as soon as I was 18, i was feeling every feeling in every one of the songs we sang together a group. Betcha by Golly Wow seemed to record my life best. The track was actually written for the singer and also actress Connie Stevens. The tune wasn’t referred to as Betcha by Golly Wow, it to be called Keep growing Strong. However eventually, the song came to be mine!
gaianation.net: The song sure did become ALL yours! I understand you stopped working through Thom Bell in 1974. The Stylistics started to fade somewhat right here in the claims in the mid-seventies, for this reason you reviewed to Europe and also the group became popular end there. Right?
Russell: Yes, we began working v Van McCoy in ~ the brand-new record agency after us left Tommy Bell. Van created songs the were comparable to The Hustle for us. We had a record referred to as Can’t offer You Anything yet Love; that went dual platinum in Europe, and dual platinum in Japan and opened increase a whole brand-new market because that us.
gaianation.net: van McCoy is thought about disco, right?
Russell: At the time van was taken into consideration disco but he goes all the way back to creating songs prefer Every win of my Heart for Gladys Knight and The Pips in the 60s. He wrote so plenty of songs for David Ruffin. Van to be a very prolific writer. He helped us when Tommy left. I really didn’t desire Tommy to leave. It to be like having your teacher just up and also say, “Look, I’m no going to present you anything, anymore. I’ve gained to go.”
gaianation.net: and also you claimed it was probably since of the document company?
Russell: Yes, he left because of problems with the record company; us didn’t carry out anything. We came ago and started working through Tommy again roughly 1982. Us did one album with him and TSOP Records called Closer than Closer. We taped three albums v the label.
gaianation.net: A couple of of those TSOP albums did no do and expected, what carry out you think was the reason?
Russell: Well, what ns heard and what ns assumed was that TSOP and also Philly international Records had lost your distribution and their contract with Columbia Records. That was throughout that time the the record company Philadelphia International and also TSOP were getting ready to close down. The was also around the moment that Teddy Pendergrass acquired hurt; he to be their best artist. There to be a chain of occasions that walk on during this duration that negatively impacted many in the Gamble and Huff stable.
gaianation.net: Russell, girlfriend left the Stylistics in 2000. To be it one amicable breakup?
Russell: No! The breakup the the group was not amicable! The breakup took location when everything pertained to a head v the difficulties that i told you were going on. I was propelled to the really limit in ’99. Ns wasn’t living right. Ns was not eating and doing things the appropriate way. Points were really affecting me. I had a problem with the inner Revenue Service. My home life no going well. Ns remember praying, asking God, “Please gain me the end of this situation. I can’t take it it any longer. If ns stay around here any type of longer, ns going to it is in dead!”
I just kept top top going till I couldn’t go anymore. And also you know, God has actually a crazy means of doing things and also He or She don’t execute things the method you ask. I shed my voice i beg your pardon is just how I left the group. My voice just went away. I can sing in my speaking voice however my falsetto was gone and so ns quit the Stylistics. The day that i quit the group, well, I’ve never ever been the happy again in my life!
Russell: I typical I to be so happy that i didn’t treatment if I never sang again!
Russell: I to be happy since I was away indigenous that whole situation. Functioning at the stressful task for that long a period nearly had actually me going the end of my mind. When I left the group, mine world ended up being fan-tas-tic!
It wasn’t long after that my voice came back. I started singing again and also doing a pair of reflects here and there. I even recorded my first solo album, A issue of Style.
All that the males whom I had actually grown up to sing with and also the Stylistics band members pertained to me and also said, “Look, let’s put a new group together!” so in 2003, we created the new Stylistics.
gaianation.net: So, the initial Stylistics members are not associated with the new group in ~ all, right?
Russell: None that the Stylistics are affiliated with my brand-new group and as a matter of fact, i haven’t even talked to them in 19 years! among the Stylistics lives 5 minutes native me. I’ve viewed him precisely twice in 19 years and also he lives about the edge from me! I also jog past that area and I don’t watch him!
gaianation.net: Wow! therefore is it because that legal factors that you use words ‘New’ in the group’s name?
Russell: For my existing group, yes, the legal covenant was that I usage Russell Thompkins, Jr. And also the brand-new Stylistics. Because that the initial Stylistics, they cannot use my image, voice or anything that requires me in your advertisement, or the benefits their development as a group.
gaianation.net: are the Stylistics still performing?
Russell: Yeah, the Stylistics room still working. Castle tried to avoid me when I an initial came earlier on the power scene and are still doing so but I do the music happen. End the years, mine group, the brand-new Stylistics, have actually become more and much more popular.
I think the Stylistics had actually three or four various lead singers. They have a brand-new lead singer currently who supplied to be a Temptations however that’s neither here nor there. I save them out of mine mind. I was very, very, angry through the team when I an initial began mine comeback and also for miscellaneous valid reasons.
But now, i’m happy that things turned out the way they did. Ns remind myself to save those Stylistics the end of my mind so that ns won’t gain angry and also become un-Godly.
gaianation.net: Russell, I check out somewhere that you were a long-distance runner. Perform you tho run?
Russell: Yes, ns do. Once I remained in my 30s ns ran 30 miles. Now, ns do five miles a day. I operation every place, all over the world. I operation in every nation I’ve ever before visited: Malaysia, Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, Kuala Lumpur, new Zealand, Australia.
I’m 68 now and I’ve slowed down a tiny bit but I execute run 5 miles a day. As soon as I have a really crucial engagement and have to gain in shape prefer for miscellaneous I just finished doing, ns run five miles double a day. Ns go out about three in the morning, run and then go back out at about three in the afternoon.
gaianation.net: therefore what go you simply finish?
Russell: Howard Hewitt, Gerald Alston (of The Manhattans), and also I just did a three-man show in Baltimore wherein we sang opera, gospel, and also R&B. We sang miscellaneous genres that music. We had actually a very enjoyable time. We had something like six months to acquire ready because that it.
gaianation.net: Yes, i interviewed Gerald Alston and I remember him mentioning the Baltimore gig currently that you point out it. Once did it take place?
Russell: The occasion took location last June in Baltimore at the college of Maryland. It was wonderful. It was one of the biggest experiences the my music life. Especially, working through the guys. Howard and also Gerald are very experienced and gifted singers. The experience helped me uncover out whereby I was coming from because I had to store up.
gaianation.net: friend run, and also any other form of exercise?
Russell: I quit lifting weights in ’05. I had a gym in the house and I used to work out. As soon as I shed my voice, i was 50 year old. I started studying music. The music took over the exercise and also the various other things the were becoming harder to do due to the fact that of mine age. I proceed to run and also occasionally and I carry out play some basketball.
gaianation.net: You lost your voice for exactly how long?
Russell: I shed my voice for around a year. I could constantly sing in the same selection as my speaking voice but my falsetto simply wasn’t comes through. Ns was taking a music course for 3 years. My teacher to be a classic music instructor and also knew nothing around the Stylistics.
When I first attended the school, the music director inquiry me, “Well, what’s this singing group you room with? What are you about? Why execute you want to come here and study in ~ the age that girlfriend are best now?” Behind she was a photograph of the human being famous Carnegie hall in new York City, i paused because that a moment, pointed come that photo on the wall surface and said, “I sang there.” (laughs)
gaianation.net: (laughs) What did the manager say once you told her you performed in ~ Carnegie Hall?
Russell: She said, “Oh, yeah? I need to do some research on you!” The director climate assigned a teacher to job-related with me. For 3 years, ns learned to read music, and play classical music. The teacher ns was paired v wasn’t teaching me what ns really want to learn, however I stayed at the institution nonetheless due to the fact that I simply wanted to learn. After the three years, I continued to study. Now, I have actually a brand-new music teacher and also I’m researching jazz.
gaianation.net: Is the a music genre you eventually want to obtain into?
Russell: I simply want to learn music. My key musical instrument will always be my voice. However if i’m going to learn music, ns should find out as much about it as I probably can; ns tell this come young civilization all the time. Ns don’t treatment what you do. If you desire to be in the entertainment business w if you a singer, then become a musician. If you are a musician, then sing. Put in as much time together you possibly deserve to to learn every musical genre. Discovering as lot as girlfriend can around your handmade will just strengthen girlfriend in life.
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gaianation.net: how does Russell relax during his downtime?
Russell: top top the weekends, my wife Florence and I go to the movies once I’m home. We go come restaurants and things prefer that. In ~ the age we are now, there’s no too lot partying walking on! (laughs)
gaianation.net: just how does Florence cope with you gift on the road, especially during the previously years?
Russell: She copes through me. She takes care of me. I went native one woman taking care of me to one more woman taking care of me. She’s taken care of the organization side that my career by law the accountancy work. Us didn’t have children so she traveled v me for around the first two decades of my career and then went back to school. Florence has actually three masters now. We’ve been through some points in our 48 year of marriage, but we can not use experienced situations we could not manage together.
gaianation.net: Is there a mantra that has served you well over this years?
Russell: It took shedding my voice to truly know that someone else is managing my life an ext than i am. It to be at the point, I pertained to realize that God to be a really potent part of mine life. I speak to God every single day. I’m not a church-going person, yet I do recognize who operation the show and also it is absolutely not me!
(NOTE: Russell Thompkins Jr.’s allegations and opinions versus his former group the Stylistics are his own. Gaianation.net uses no opinion regarding the accuracy the Mr. Thompkins’ allegations.)