Russ Henderson 7th January 1924 - 18th August 2015
It was midnight via text that I learnt of Russ' passing. For weeks he had been in my thoughts. I was in the company of Marshall Allen, leader of The Sun Ra Arkestra, he being the same age as Russ. The news made my heart sink and I excused myself from Marshall and went directly home. I still find it difficult to understand how I just happened to be with Marshall at that specific time.
His funeral was a celebration, a very heartfelt day. I walked through the rooms of his house looking at his personal items with the full realisation that I would never see him again.
The last time I saw Russ we spoke of projects we intended to work on in the future. One being meeting with Marshall Allen and they having a conversation which would possibly lead to them playing music together or just simply comparing notes. We had interest from the BBC.
The other Russ was considering seeking sponsorship to improve his diet so he could live to be 130. When he told me of his intention he then purposefully walked to a doorway and grabbed a bar running across it and pulled himself up..he walked back to the table and sat down..saying 'see I can still chin the bar.' Of course I wanted to help him. We discussed ideas of pictures we could take to show to potential sponsors.
Russ knew so much about diet, he showed me recipes and explained his workout regime. Below is a page from a book he had.
His passion for life is what makes his passing so difficult. Of course there is much to celebrate as his achievements were numerous and I cannot emphasise enough the importance of his role in assimilating Caribbean culture into British mainstream consciousness. The clipping below illustrating this point.
A great film on Britain in the mid to late sixties 'Pressure' is highly recommended (link)
Everyone gathers at Russ' house before the procession to the Church. To the right of this picture are Margaret Busby and Val Wilmer. Both extraordinary people (link). I first met Val at a Sun Ra BBC recording session and was stunned to learn of her association with Russ. Unfortunately this was because she had written his obituary in The Guardian (link)
The procession had the feel of liberation. It came from a different time.
An unforgettable day..blessed to be surrounded by those who loved him. Forever in my heart.
Thank you Mary & Angus
(Link) to previous entry on Russ Henderson