How did you hear about this band?
I was playing with the Sandy Springs New Horizons Band, and Ron Gilmore (trombone) told me the Roswell NHB needed a bass player. Now I just play with the RNHB.
Do you play any other instruments?
Oh, yes. I began playing trumpet while in 4th grade. In college, I moved over to the baritone horn and then string bass. For three years in college, I played bass guitar in a five piece R & R / R & B group, The Statesman, in a New York nightclub called “The Cozy Cabin.” I also played string bass in the college orchestra.
Do you take lessons?
I used to give private lessons when I was teaching high school. I was a music teacher.
Tell us a little about yourself.
My grandfather was a violinist and my father was a drummer. He helped develop my interest in Dixieland jazz. When I was in college, I played one weekend with Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Music must be in my genes, and I give it everything I have. That’s why I’m so happy. Two of my grandsons have inherited my musical genes. One plays sax and the other plays bass.
What is or was your line of work?
I graduated from Danbury State College, which is now Western Connecticut State University, with a double major in Music and in Education. For a few years, I taught music in the Newtown, Connecticut school system. After that, I was in medical sales in both pharmaceutical and medical capital equipment in Manhattan and Brooklyn. At the same time, I was also a weekend morning drive DJ in the Connecticut and New York market. I did a LOT of radio work. Eventually, I moved to Atlanta and settled back in sales. Of course, it wasn’t long before I went back into radio again for WGKA Atlanta, “The Voice of the Arts.” Since I was moonlighting and didn’t want to lose my day job, I used the radio name Russ Phillips. We played eclectic music; jazz, swing, opera, R&B, and Broadway hits. It was a very different mix of music but one that captured a wide variety of the essence of good music.
Do you have family?
I’m married with three grown daughters. One is a CPA, one is a Georgia State Court Judge, and one is a teacher devoted to children who have special needs. In addition, I have four grandchildren.
What are your hobbies?
Music has always been my first love, but radio is right there with it. I gave myself to radio. I guess I’m quite a ham. However, spending time with my grandchildren is the greatest gift of all.
Please share a memorable experience in your life.
It would have to be the World’s Fair in Queens, New York, in 1963. When I was in college, I played in the symphonic wind ensemble which was commissioned to play for three months at the United States Pavilion. I spent a lot of time with the guys at The Bavarian Beer Gardens! The fair was probably my most memorable experience.
What is on your “bucket list?”
I’d like to get back into broadcasting, but it’s such a tough grind. I can’t wake up at 4 am anymore, be outrageous and ready to go on the air from 6 am to10 am to do top 40 R&R for morning drive shows! I did it for 7 years. That’s over and done. Those good old radio days are history, but boy were they fun!