Arthur Russell Net Worth

How much was Arthur Russell worth?

Net Worth:$2 Million
Profession:Professional Cellist
Date of Birth:May 21, 1951
Country:United States of America

About Arthur Russell

The music of Arthur Russell, a New York-based artist who simultaneously studied classical cello and downtown disco, is multifaceted and simultaneously easy to understand and challenging to master. Russell created a sizable body of music between the 1970s and 1980s.

The only solo albums he published during his lifetime were 2424 Music (1982, as Dinosaur L), Tower of Meaning (1983), and World of Echo (1986). He also released a variety of underground dance singles under aliases like Dinosaur L and Indian Ocean. Russell’s work was widely disregarded in his lifetime, but since his AIDS-related death in 1992, it has gained more and more clout.

American cellist, composer, producer, singer, and musician Arthur Russell had an estimated net worth of $2 million dollars at the time of his death, in 1992. Russell was known for exploring many styles of music in his short lived career.

Born in: 1952, Oskaloosa, Iowa
Died: April 4, 1992, New York City, New York
Key Albums:World of Echo (1986), Another Thought (1994)

Young Years

Russell, who was born Charles Arthur Russell in Oskaloosa, started out by learning the piano by ear. He took up the cello, his mother’s instrument, and joined the middle school orchestra.

Russell relocated to San Francisco in 1970 to enroll in the city’s music conservatory. Later, he resided in a Buddhist community and attended the Ali Akbar College of Music to study North Indian music. There, he met Allen Ginsberg, a beat poet, with whom Russell would work and provide live musical accompaniment for Ginsberg’s readings.

Russell relocated to New York in 1973 to pursue linguistics at Columbia University and composition at the Manhattan School of Music. Russell’s musical output at this time tended to fall into two categories: folk song and contemporary composition. In researching the latter, he stumbled across a young Philip Glass, who was just beginning to establish himself as a minimalist icon at the time. “this was a guy who could sit down with a cello and sing with it in a way that no one on this earth has ever done before, or will do again.” Glass would later say of Russell’s playing.


Through Glass, Russell and David Byrne connected in 1974, and Byrne attempted to persuade Russell to join his fledgling endeavor—a band that would eventually take the name Talking Heads. In a 1987 interview with Melody Maker, Russell recalled that the band had only a trio at first and was looking for a fourth member. “We grew close, but I ultimately decided against joining the band. They all attended art school and enjoyed dressing stoically and coolly. That was never my thing. At the time, I was from the music industry and had long hair. I believe I may have had a significant impact on the Talking Heads song “I Zimbra” from the album Life During Wartime. There is a phrase on that same song that reads, “This ain’t no disco!” Which I misinterpreted as David stating, “Disco sucks!” at the moment. That was really personal to me.”

Russell developed a growing love with disco while frequenting New York’s underground gay clubs. He made a connection that few others at the time did: disco’s repetitious rhythms matched both the minimalism of modern music and Indian ragas.

Russell went a step further and thought that disco was more liberated than these highly organized forms. Russell remarked that “Dance music is more improvisatory,” It makes use of an extensible structure that is both recognized and improvisatory.


Russell was tremendously productive between the late 1970s and the late 1980s, though not always in the most visible way. As a producer, Russell was a workaholic, but he also had a perfectionist bent that led him to frequently abandon unfinished tunes or to spend a long time doing countless adjustments to a single song.

In this way, the nascent white-label disco singles market catered to his whims; Russell frequently released many pressings of the same tracks.

Russell ruled over a haphazard discography under a crazy variety of names, including Dinosaur L, Loose Joints, and Indian Ocean. Three “proper” albums were released by Russell during that time: 1982’s Dinosaur L LP 24-24 Music, a collection of contemplative disco repetition; 1983’s Tower of Meaning, an entirely orchestral work printed in only 320 copies; and 1986’s World of Echo, in which Russell’s various schools of influence finally met in a small, frail setting. Russell finally received praise for the record, which was listed among Melody Maker’s top 30 albums of 1986.

In a cryptic 1987 interview, Russell stated, “World of Echo isn’t a complete version of echo, it’s a sketch version of echo,” Typically, Russell only perceived shortcomings in the album that would become his signature work. I want to create the complete version, complete with orchestras and brass bands performing outside in parks on bandstands that produce echo.


Russell, a musician who was already reclusive and preoccupied, became increasingly fussy about his recordings in the late 1980s. Russell meticulously created dozens of different edits, mixes, and takes of various tracks while working on what he hoped would be a definitive album of pop songs—one that he never finished.

Russell began to withdraw more and more into his work after getting HIV. He hardly ever left the house. He was cautious about sharing his music with the world and virtually shut down his musical output since he understood that any releases at this point in his life would be final testaments to a desired legacy.

In April 1992, Russell passed away from an AIDS-related disease. He left countless numbers of recordings, notes, sketchbooks, and lyrics behind. These would ultimately give Russell’s music a life that would far outlast his own.


Russell’s first posthumously released album, Another Thought, was released in 1994, two years after his passing. The compilation, compiled by Philip Glass, introduced Russell to a whole new audience as it was his first commercially available CD release.

A series of Russell re-releases in 2004 solidified his status as an obscure outsider who was unfairly overlooked in his day. World of Echo was re-released that year, along with the pop-song-focused anthology Calling Out of Context and the “best of” The World of Arthur Russell.

Since then, a wide range of musicians—from contemporary disco groups like!!!, The Rapture, and Hercules and Love Affair to somber songwriters like Jens Lekman, Grizzly Bear, and Owen Pallett—have credited Russell as a major inspiration.

Arthur Russell’s posthumous position as an important player of cross-genre experimentation was further cemented in 2008 with the release of the country compilation Love is Overtaking Me and the documentary film Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell by Matt Wolf.

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