Russell Craig Mael (born October 5, 1948 in Santa Monica, California) is an American singer and songwriter who, with his elder brother Ron, formed the band Sparks in 1971, which was renamed from Halfnelson. He is also the co-founder of Lil' Beethoven Records.
The Mael brothers grew up in Pacific Palisades - a relatively affluent suburb of Los Angeles - with their father, Meyer Mael (of Russian and Austrian Jewish descent), who was a graphic designer and caricaturist for the Hollywood Citizen-News, and their mother, Miriam (née Moskowitz), a librarian. After being educated at Palisades High School (where Russell, in the "Class of '65" alongside Michael Medved and David Wallechinsky, played as quarterback for the Palisades High School Dolphins), both brothers enrolled at UCLA; Ron began a course in Cinema and Graphic Arts in 1963 while Russell studied Theater Arts and Filmmaking between 1966-1968.
Well known for his wide vocal range, Russell's most notable vocal trait is a far-reaching falsetto, especially evident on songs such as "Equator" from Sparks' Kimono My House album. He is also known for his flamboyant and hyperactive stage presence.
He has recorded 22 albums with his band, Sparks. The band has a cult following around the world and are best known for the song "This Town Ain't Big Enough for Both of Us" which reached number 2 in the U.K. Singles Chart.
The pair appear as themselves in the 1977 disaster film Rollercoaster, performing live. They also appeared in episode twenty-two of season six of the Gilmore Girls.
Sparks is currently collaborating (2015) with the Scottish Group Franz Ferdinand under the identity FFS. One of their first tracks is entitled "Collaborations don't work". Other tracks will be reinterpretations of existing Sparks compositions. The supergroup was interviewed on BBC Radio 6 on April 27, 2015 and announced they will be appearing on "Live with Jools Holland" this on April 30th 2015 and are to appear at Glastonbury Festival this summer. Information can be found on their website FFSmusic.com
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