Born in Memphis and starting his career in 1974, Russell Jackson moved to Chicago in 1976 and gained his blues “stripes” working with Otis Clay, Buddy Guy, Bobby Rush, Lucky Peterson, Charlie Musselwhite and Willie Nelson plus more. He also recorded and toured with such greats as Luther Tucker, Matt Murphy, Kenny Neal and Katie Webster.
As a young man, Russell Jackson went to Chicago to pursue a musical career as a bass player. He developed his craft in a very competitive Chicago blues scene, and was finally rewarded when he was hired by one of Chicago’s great blues artists, vocalist Otis Clay. While playing in one of Chicago’s clubs, he was then spotted by none other than Mr. B.B. King and as a result of this encounter; Russell was invited to join the B.B.King Orchestra as the full time bass player. This opportunity lead to a very fruitful and productive seven-year relationship, and the opportunity to travel around the world with the Ambassador of the Blues as B.B. King was known. During this time, Russell consciously studied the manner in which B.B. King conducted himself as a band leader, which Russell would later apply to great effect in his own distinguished career.
Russell improvised on a number of approaches to playing bass – most notable was his use of his thumb on the bass strings. This technique is commonly used by present day funk bands but Russell was the first to employ the technique in a blues context. While Russell became extremely proficient with the electric bass, he is known more notably for his talents on the stand-up bass. Russell is a disciple of the legendary Willie Dixon and continues to champion the tradition of the stand-up bass.
After his time with B.B. King, Russell went to Los Angeles to study at the prestigious Dick Grove School of Music. In the late 1980s, Russell relocated to Austin, Texas where he worked as a recording session and band member behind Katie Webster, Lucky Peterson, Kenny Neal, Matt Guitar Murphy and Luther Tucker. It is at this point that this gifted nucleus of first-call session players would form the Silent Partners, which over a short time-frame included Russell, along with Mel Brown (Bobby Blue Bland Band), and Tony Coleman (B.B. King Band). They recorded an album in 1989 titled If It’s All Night, It’s All Right on the famed Antone’s record label. The band was later joined by Andrew Jr. Boy Jones (Freddy King Band). This configuration of players became the principal backup band and the top studio musicians in Austin, Texas.
Russell released two solo albums, Becoming Blue (1999) and Have Mercy (2007), and can be heard on many distinguished artists’ albums, among them Kenny Blues Boss Wayne, BB King, Luther Tucker, Frankie Lee, Long John Baldry, Kenny Neal, Matt Murphy, Katie Webster and in 2022, the reunion of Silent Partners.
Russell splits his time between Houston and Vernon B.C., where he tours and performs with Kenny “Blues Boss” Wayne on a regular basis.