British vocalist and songwriter Russell Oliver Stone, famous in the late seventies as one half of husband-and-wife duo R&J Stone, is making a return to music with his first new album in 36 years, Love Aspects, released November 11 on Right Track Records.
In 1976, with his wife, Joanna, Russell enjoyed a worldwide hit with their self-penned ballad We Do It. Sadly, tragedy struck just two years later when Joanna, then aged 37, died of a brain tumor. Completely overwhelmed by grief and unable to cope, Stone found solace in drinking.
Having worked with legendary producers such as Georgio Moroder and Henry Mancini, Stone’s credentials were second to none. Widely respected within the music industry, he was still able to earn a living on the road as a backing singer for Marvin Gaye and Tony Bennett, amongst others, and worked on numerous TV and radio commercials.
In 1983, with Stone now struggling with alcohol dependency, Tommy LiPuma, one of the world’s biggest producers at the time, set about negotiating a solo record deal for Russell with US Warner Bros. But when Stone flew out to Los Angeles to begin negotiations with the label’s executives, it quickly became clear to them that he was out of control.
“I was a drunk,” he admits. “The record company sent some representatives in a limousine to pick me up from the airport. On the way to the hotel we stopped at some traffic lights and I just got out and started staggering down the street. ‘What are you doing? Where are you going?’ the label’s guys shouted. I just remember laughing and shouting back, ‘I don’t know!’”
The collapse of this deal, along with his career prospects, triggered Stone’s worst phase of drinking. This continued until 1992, when he finally attended a rehab clinic in Basingstoke for 6 weeks. Determined to find a way forward, Russell started to study and in 1998 he gained a diploma as an Integral Counsellor and in 2004 was awarded an MA in Transpersonal Psychotherapy and Counselling, and in the process became a Transpersonal Psychotherapist.
The catalyst for Love Aspects occurred in 2012, when he was approached by Chris Adams of Lynx Music about releasing the R&J Stone back catalogue on CD for the first time. Stone said, “I was delighted to do so, but it really got my brain buzzing. I had a bunch of songs I’d written since the ‘80s and had the itch to finally record them.”
Stone then approached the highly respected bassist Marcus Cliffe [Mark Knopfler, Paul Young, Al Green, Emilou Harris, The Notting Hillbillies], who became the album’s producer. Says Russell:
“This is my reward for pursuing so relentlessly that which I did not know I was pursuing. I couldn’t have made this album before now, though. I wasn’t ready.”
Love Aspects is preceded by the release of the single Love Will Endure on September 23rd.