Sidney Keith Russell, known as Bob Russell, was an American songwriter born on April 25, 1914 in Passaic, New Jersey. Although he was primarily a lyricist who collaborated with composers, he was, on occasion, a composer who collaborated with lyricists.
In 1968, Russell along with songwriting partner Quincy Jones became the first African-Americans nominated for an Academy Award in the Best Original Song category (for the film Banning). The following year, both he and Jones were nominated again in the same cateogry (for the Sidney Poitier film For Love of Ivy).
He attended Washington University (St. Louis, Missouri) where he was roommates with Sidney Sheldon the novelist. Then Bob went to work as an advertising copywriter. He then turned to writing special material for vaudeville acts, and then for movie studios, ultimately writing complete scores for two movies: Jack and the Beanstalk and Reach for Glory. The latter of these received the Locarno International Film Festival prize in 1962. A number of other movies featured compositions by Russell: Affair in Trinidad, Blue Gardenia, The Girl Can’t Help It, The Girl Most Likely, Matter of Who, Meet Captain Kidd, Sound-Off, That Midnight Kiss, and Ticket to Tomahawk. In the movies The Girl Most Likely, Blue Gardenia, and Matter of Who, Russell's compositions included the title songs.
Among his collaborators were Lou Alter, Peter De Rose, Duke Ellington, Bronislaw Kaper, Lester Lee, Carl Sigman, Harold Spina, and Harry Warren.
In 1970 he was inducted into the Songwriters' Hall of Fame. Russell died in February of 1970. In 2004 he was posthumously awarded the ASCAP lifetime achievement award in "Pop" music.
Russell's wife, Hannah Russell (b.1913 d.2002), was also a composer of children's movies and songs. Bob Russell's brother-in-law was legendary songwriter Bud Green (b.1897 d.1981) who wrote such classics as Sentimental Journey, Once In A While, and Alabamy Bound. Russell's daughter, Simohn Spearitt (b.1945), is an author, who wrote for example Pink Rose Bush, a self-esteem book for children. His grandson is singer/songwriter/producer Luther Russell (b.1970). His granddaughter, who resides in New York, is photographer Savannah Spirit (b.1975).
Composer and lyricist