Russell Glyn “Russ” Ballard (31 October 1945) is an English singer, songwriter and musician.
Originally coming to prominence as the lead singer and guitarist for the band Argent, Ballard became known by the late 1970s as a songwriter and producer. His compositions “New York Groove”, “You Can Do Magic”, “Since You Been Gone”, “Liar”, “Winning”, “I Know There’s Something Going On”, “So You Win Again” and “God Gave Rock and Roll to You” were hits for other artists during the 1970s and 80s. He also scored several minor hits under his own name in the early/mid-1980s.
Ballard was initially a guitarist, joining Buster Meikle & The Day Breakers in 1961 together with his older brother Roy and their friend the drummer Bob Henrit. After a stint with The Roulettes, backing Adam Faith, he then went on to join Unit 4 + 2 in the early 1960s, before becoming the lead singer and guitarist of Argent (along with Henrit, who joined as drummer), writing their hit “God Gave Rock and Roll to You”, which would later be covered by both Petra and KISS. Ballard is most well known as the vocalist on Argent’s smash “Hold Your Head Up”. In 1972, Ballard performed on Colin Blunstone’s album Ennismore, which was produced by Chris White. Ballard also wrote the hit single, “I Don’t Believe in Miracles”, which featured on that album.
He left Argent in 1974 and pursued a solo and songwriting career. He wrote such hits as Three Dog Night’s “Liar” (originally recorded by Argent), Hot Chocolate’s 1977 UK chart topper “So You Win Again”, and Rainbow’s 1979 hit “Since You Been Gone”. Head East had also recorded the song in 1978 for its self-titled album, and before that it was included in Ballard’s 1976 solo album Winning. Ballard also wrote Rainbow’s 1981 No. 3 (UK) hit “I Surrender”.
Ballard also wrote and performed on Roger Daltrey’s first two solo albums, Daltrey (1973) and Ride a Rock Horse (1975). Daltrey recorded some other Russ Ballard originals for his McVicar soundtrack, and his albums Under a Raging Moon and Can’t Wait to See the Movie. Ballard did a tour with Roger Daltrey in 1985, playing guitar and even singing one of his own songs.
British pop band Hello recorded Ballard’s “New York Groove” in 1975, reaching No. 7 in Germany and No. 9 in the UK. “New York Groove” would also be recorded three years later by Ace Frehley, who turned the tune into a stateside hit.
Ballard also wrote the No. 17, 1981 hit for Santana, called “Winning”, which appeared on their album entitled Zebop! and had previously been released by Ballard himself on his second solo album. To promote the Winning album he toured Europe and the US in October and November 1976 working with the John Stanley Media Management Company and a four-piece band doing large theatre venues in Europe and medium-sized clubs like The Bottom Line in New York and the Whisky A Go Go in LA in the States with excellent results. Ground Control sound engineer Robin Mayhew looked after the sound for both tours.
Ballard wrote and produced “You Can Do Magic” for the group America on its 1982 album View from the Ground. The single climbed to No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in October 1982, and helped resurrect the band’s career. The following year, America brought in Ballard to produce their follow-up album, Your Move. One of its tracks, “The Border”, which was co-written by Ballard with Dewey Bunnell, reached No. 33 on the Billboard Hot 100.
Ballard wrote ABBA singer Anni-Frid Lyngstad’s 1982 solo hit: “I Know There’s Something Going On” (which was produced by Phil Collins, and also featured Collins on drums). The track reached No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100. He also penned “Can’t Shake Loose” for fellow ABBA former member Agnetha Fältskog, which peaked at No. 29 in the same listings.
In 1991 the song he co-wrote with John Waite and Jonathan Cain, “So This Is Eden”, appeared on Bad English’s album, Backlash.
Ballard has also written and produced for Elkie Brooks, and more recently[when?], acting as a talent scout, he “discovered” Lauren Harris.
As a solo artist, Ballard charted once on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart, when “On the Rebound” reached No. 58 in 1980. English rock band Uriah Heep covered “On the Rebound” in 1982 on their album Abominog. In 1980, he released a solo album on Epic entitled Barnet Dogs.
Another notable solo hit, “Voices” – from his second self-titled album (1984) – was featured in the Miami Vice episode “Calderone’s Return: Part 2 – Calderone’s Demise”, which aired on 26 October 1984. The song was a brief hit on rock radio stations, peaking at No. 15 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. However, “Voices” stalled below the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at No. 110. Another song from the same album, “In the Night” was featured in the episode “Calderone’s Return: Part 1 – The Hit List”. The show also featured “Your Time Is Gonna Come” by Ballard later in its run.
“The Fire Still Burns”, the title track of his 1985 album attained No. 15 on the Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. (by wikipedia)
A sunglasses-carrying member of the Roy Orbison/Ian Hunter shades club, former Argent vox-man and crack songwriter Russ Ballard (“Since You’ve Been Gone,” “I Know There’s Something Going On”) breaks out with an ace band for another shot at the spotlight. “Voices” deservedly garnered dial time; and Ace Frehley, who hit big with Ballard’s “New York Groove,” returned to plunder the slattern “In the Night” for Frehley’s Comet. Ballard himself blatantly rips the opening chords of “Who’s Crying Now” for “The Last Time.” He almost creates the Outfield on “Day to Day,” but Ballard doesn’t have the pipes. Russ Ballard won’t knock you out of your socks, but he is a surprisingly strong guitarist and his songs maintain a high level of generic quality on both sides of this slab: a decent disc that goes everywhere but nowhere. Ballard’s bizarre “fire” leitmotiv continues here. ( by Doug Stone)
Russ Ballard (vocals, guitar)
Mo Foster (bass)
Simon Phillips (drums)
Greg Sanders (keyboards)