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Russ Ballard

Photo Credit: Sven Kramer
Photo Credit: Sven Kramer

Russ Ballard, best known as the singer in 70’s band Argent and as successful solo artist including writing many hit songs for the likes of Rainbow and KISS, expands on his singing career and what the future holds with regard to new music and live gigs.


Who were your influences in the early days and have you always wanted to be a singer in a band?


My early influences were mostly RnR singers, Elvis, Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, Later, Ray Charles…


I had piano lessons for five years (mainly light classical) then I moved on to guitar….I just wanted to be in band with my mates. When I became Pro with Adam Faith and The Roulettes we all sang back up, so I got in to singing. Then I was in Unit Four, not as lead singer, but I did a couple of songs. Rod Argent came to see us…two days later he phoned me and asked if I’d like to be in a group he was forming (which became Argent). From then on I was a singer.


Apart from the bands we know about, have you ever auditioned for the vocal spot in any other notable bands?


I remember a member of Uriah Heap left and formed a band. I had a call from the manager asking me to be in the band but I said ‘No’. I’ve been told that I was expected to replace Ian Hunter in Mott The Hoople but I don’t know.


I toured with Roger Daltrey as guitarist in his band and while we were there Roger asked me to sing a couple of tunes in his set, which I did.


It must have been a proud moment to see your songs in the singles charts but was there a slight regret that it wasn’t you up there with that song?


No, after being a professional musician from 1963 - 1974, when I left Argent my plans were to write songs, make albums, and tour the world with my own band…which I started doing in 1976. When I toured America, I played five nights at The Bottom Line in New York and five nights at The Roxy in L.A. I came back to England and found my wife was pregnant and once I saw my son and I just had to be there while he was developing. So my choice was made but I knew I could write good songs and be at home looking after the family.


In 1978 my daughter was born but I always missed playing live and didn’t do it for nine years, although looking back, it was the right choice.


You have written a number of great songs over the years. Do you have a favourite and why?


“Since You’ve Been Gone” had a great energy and “God Gave Rock And Roll To You” had a good message. I expanded on that idea and I made an album about the spiritual side, not religious. I wanted to say (in song), some things that had bugged me most of my life. How we separate ourselves from each other, how tribal we are….How we find something good in life then ruin it by turning it into a system. The album is “The Book of Love” and has some really good songs I believe. As humans we’re very similar, although we think we’re not.


Where do you get your inspiration for writing your songs from?


From everywhere. Titles –‘Things that are personal ‘. An idea can start from a sound. The great thing about writing is you never know where a song is going to go.


Do you have any plans to release another solo album?


I have two albums finished. One is new songs which I started in the pandemic. I’ve finished making an album of my hit songs. Most of them I made as demo’s years ago. I’ve been trying to find a record label.


Some vocalists are on strict dietary regimes or gargle with special liquids. How have you kept your voice in tip-top shape all these years?


After singing for years and years I decided to warm up my voice before shows, (with vocal exercises, scales and things) it really helped me. I found I could sing for two hours without losing my voice, I feel more security.


Do you still get the same buzz out of singing live as you did in the past?


I love it as much today as thirty years ago…maybe more. It’s great exercise, it can be good meditation.


Are there any musicians that you have not worked with, but would like to in the future?


I’ve worked with some brilliant people and I believe they’re the best …Simon Phillips, Jeff Porcaro and Bob Henrit (Drums), David Sancious, David Paich and David Foster (keys), Jim Rodford, Mo Foster and Greg Lake were for me very special.


Are there any unreleased recorded material from your catalogue of songs that could be released?


I have plenty that I have not released. I have a new album of twelve new songs that I hope will be released this year.


With the live circuit back up and running and you performing a few dates in the UK in 2023 is there a possibility of seeing you perform in the UK again in the near future?


I’m playing a German tour in April, a Rock meets Classic, ten shows, mainly in Bavaria, a show in Portugal, in May, another Rock/Classic in June, some things in Italy in September.


I just need a tour of the UK, that would be great.


 




 


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