An Ode to Russ

Some mornings social media is brutal. You wake up. Spy your phone. See what’s going on and ……………….. BANG!!!!!!!!!

Russ Taylor’s Dead

I first met Russ when we played North West Calling (https://www.songkick.com/festivals/2645484-north-west-calling/id/39132816-north-west-calling-2020) in the summer of 2018. Not long ago but it seems like a lifetime. Russ years must be like dogs’. One is worth seven.

We had played our set and retired to the merch stall. In terms of shifting product things were going swimmingly. But financially: it was a disaster. Our table was directly in front of the bar. Everytime a CD, LP or shirt was sold, whoever took the money swivelled 180 degrees and spent it on a round of jaegermeister shots! (Don’t ask. It’s pretty much de rigeur in Powersland).

Things were messy.

Russ had the table next to us and was both impressed at the demand for the records and amused at where the money was going. We talked. Clearly here was a music nut. He explained he had a vinyl label, Crocodile Records (https://www.discogs.com/label/120995-Crocodile-Records-3), and gave me a pile of releases, enthusing about each and every one.

“Let me put a single out for you”, he said, and I pretty much decided there and then through the Jaeger haze that I would. What I didn’t realise while we spoke, with Russ sat behind his table, was the huge effort required for him to get up and move just 5 yards. Russ was heavily disabled, but with his cheery demeanor there was no inkling of the extreme effort it took for him to get through the day, until he had to get up and get through it.

Russ put out the single of “Kelly’s Gone Insane” for us (featured here: https://duncanreidandthebigheads.com/2019/06/17/the-story-behind-the-song-kellys-gone-insane/ ) and over the past months has worked tirelessly to get it promoted all over the world.

Whenever we’ve played in the North West he’s been there via a combination of crutches, busses and trains. Exhausting just to watch. But always with a smile, always with an encouraging word, always brightening the day for those of us for whom life is a doddle compared to the barriers he had to overcome to achieve what he did.

So, I’ve lost a business partner (for want of a better phrase) and friend. The world has lost a battler and a ray of sunshine. The music we love has lost a hero it can ill afford to lose. And everyone has lost an example we should all aspire to.

Good bye Russ. I’m honoured our paths crossed.

The Story Behind the Song: Kelly’s Gone Insane

I had a feeling that picture might grab your attention. It’s very typical of the wonderful and extravert Kelly Navarro. I say wonderful and extravert but I’ve never met her. I bet she is though.

Back before Duncan Reid and the Big Heads were even a twinkle in my eye there was no Facebook. Or there might have been but we were all on something called MySpace. And that’s where I met Kelly. She was working in a record store somewhere in the San Francisco area, daily regaling the world with tales of the appalling customers who would come in.

Kelly had a unique view of customer service. People trying to buy records could expect an honest appraisal of their manners and we, the world at large, were given a detailed run down of the revolting specimens who dared to interupt her day and which of them required shooting.

She was hilarious but I often wondered: what if she really did shoot them? And so the song “Kelly’s Gone Insane” was born and featured on our first album: Little Big Head.

Little did I know that Kelly’s fate was sealed at birth when her parents named her, as the following photograph culled from social media (and so it must be true) shows:

7 years after Little Big Head’s release we’ve been through 3 represses, all sold out and so it’s time for a celebratory 2019 reissue. Look out for that in July with a new sleeve, previously unreleased bonus tracks and LP in yellow, splatter vinyl.

In the meantime we have a very limited edition vinyl single (300 copies only) on Crocodile Records (contact them here: https://www.facebook.com/CrocodileRecs/) of Kelly’s Gone Insane backed by 2 songs not previously available physically: “Pretty Little Rachel” and “Baby Baby”, also recorded at the Little Big Head sessions but not included on the album.

You can also order here (post included in the price):

Kelly’s Gone Insane Vinyl EP

A magnificent EP backed by rare tracks Pretty Little Rachel and Baby Baby

£10.00

You can listen to Kelly’s Gone Insane here on spotify:

And if you dont have Spotify here it is on Bancamp: https://duncanreidandthebigheads.bandcamp.com/track/kellys-gone-insan