Russell Bennett – A Jazz Legend in His Lifetime



Jazz UK has been stunned by the tragic news of Russell Bennett’s untimely death. His father, Martin Bennett posted this very brief message on Facebook: “Russell Bennett died on Saturday evening at 6 pm. Funeral arrangements later. Devastating.”

As many of you who have access to Facebook will have seen, messages of condolence have been flooding in from across the jazz community. Please also see the message from Rich Bennett about his brother’s funeral at the foot of this post.

Russ was an incredibly versatile trombonist, a very special, friendly person, and a jester – his antics on stage were legendary. I first met him at The Hemsby Autumn Jazz Parade a few years ago where, during an interval he invited me backstage to share cake with the band.

He will be sorely missed by scores of musicians and fans alike, particularly members of the “Bennett Brothers” band, and above all, by his family.

With his feel for the music, his flamboyance on stage and his countless fans, his future in jazz was firmly assured yet so tragically cut short.


I took the rather iconic photo above of Russ and Rich in juxtaposition on stage a while ago. I use it in the masthead on my “Jazz and Jazz” Facebook page where it will remain for the duration in Russ’s honour. Included below is a collection of some other Jazz&Jazz photos of The Master.

Many of his fellow musicians and fans have already paid tribute to Russ on Facebook but it would be a wonderful to see your memories of him included in “Speak Your Mind” below.





Thank you, Russ, for the years of sheer enjoyment you have given jazz fans everywhere, so tragically cut short, but not before you had made a lasting impression on us all.

Peter M Butler
Editor & Proprietor Jazz&Jazz

(Photos by Laurence Cumming & Peter M Butler © Jazz&Jazz)

Richard Bennett has asked for his brave message about Russ to be shared.

“Never thought I’d be saying this…… My brothers funeral is a week Friday. That’s Friday the 30th of October. It will be held at St Michael’s church. Bude at 3pm. Please share this as there will be a lot of people wanting to know who I may not be fb friends with. Any musicians who know they are coming please let me know. I’m hoping to put on a party afterwards n would be good to know who’s around. Thanks to everyone of you for all your lovely messages. Russ would be overwhelmed. Cheers all. Rich X”

Russ’s Funeral

Martin Bennett has emailed details of Russell’s funeral: “The funeral service will be held at St Michael’s Church, Bude, Cornwall, on Friday 30 October at 3pm followed by a musical celebration of Russell’s life at The Carriers Inn, Bude. The funeral will take place the following day at 1 pm at Landscove Church, S Devon – more of a family function”.

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  1. Jim McIntosh says:

    A wonderful, funny and humorous man. A great jazzman in every sense of the word. A real cutting edge to a very warm tone. A swinger! A great entertainer to boot! We need many more Russell Bennetts!!

    Russ, I love you with all my heart and always will. You’re brother ain’t so bad either!

    RIP peace young man. I am (naturally) having a wet with you right now!

    Jim x

  2. Peter Butler says:

    Thank you, Jim, for those memories and thoughts about Russ. I’m sure Martin and Rich will appreciate them. Also thanks for phoning. I always appreciate and value your input.

  3. Jim McIntosh says:

    Thank you Peter.

  4. Thanks to Russel for his contribution to jazz. The Bennet band is very popular in France
    Unfortunately you left us before coming to play in France as expected in 2016
    We were happy enough to see you in Bude Jazz Festival , we will never forgot these moments
    RIP dear Russell we love you

  5. Peter,
    Many thanks for your article on my son, Russell Bennett. As you say, he was a one off and greatly loved by so many people. I can’t count the number of condolences that have arrived via Face Book and email from all over the UK, Ireland, France, Holland, Germany and Scandinavia, together with more than a few from the USA and Australia.

  6. Peter Butler says:

    Martin, within minutes of posting here on Jazz&Jazz and on Facebook, shares of the post have been soaring. And I’ve yet to share it on Twitter and Linkedin. I’m honoured that I could feature the post. Whenever I met Russ he had a host of fans talking to him so I’ll never forget that very special time when he took me backstage for a huge slice of the band’s cake!!! And he offered me a second slice!

  7. Joan Hall says:

    We first knew Russ when he and Richard where fairly new on the jazz scene and at that time he played banjo, and excellent he was too. He was a lovely, friendly, funny man and a great entertainer who never failed to tell the ladies how lovely they were! He will be very sorely missed, not least of course by his family and my condolences go out to them all. RIP Russ it was a privilege to have known you and a tragedy that you went so young.


    I have had the privilege of knowing both Russell and Richard from their very first band gigs and saw the changeover that Russell made when he found that the banjo could not be for him.Then he tried the trombone It took him sometime to get it right but with his knowledge of chords and his ebullient charm he became what he was a great entertainer No more Girl of my Dreams no more Juggling on a motorcycle and no more hugs whenever we met I will miss you terribly Russ .Lenny

  9. First met Richard and russ at uptown upon Severn. Later I filmed them at the Redcliff hotel, Paignton when Russ was telling his many jokes. Will be very sorely missed by all.

  10. Harvey and don McQuillen-Wright says:

    We are devastated, and can not express our most sincere and heartfelt sympathy to all the family.
    Although we don’t get to see the band as often as we would like, we are your greatest fans – probably among your oldest too, and will always remember Russell’s dry wit, enthusiastic and talented playing.
    RIP RUSSELL, and love to Richard, Dorine, Martin and the rest of the family.

  11. Claire Young says:

    Having first seen the Bennett Brothers some 15 odd years ago at a double header with the Phil Mason Band, my family have enjoyed many, many gigs, festivals and late night jam sessions, fuelled by this exuberant family. Richard and Russell, being nearer my own age helped me bridge the gap between my age and the music I love. (It’s no news that jazz is generally enjoyed by a slightly older generation). Russell’s sense of humour, love, enthusiasm, talent, and mischievous nature went a long way to ensuring that we booked as many festivals where this band played as we could. We became good friends, and as such will miss him terribly. My heart breaks for the loss of such talent and fun, but my soul soars with the music, laughter, and love that he brought to all our lives. I am so very grateful for time we had to enjoy his company. Our lives are truly richer for having known him for all too short a time.

    With love and sympathy to all the family, and thanks to Russell for so many, many times you have mended our hearts with your music and laughter.

  12. Peter Butler says:

    I really must applaud fans and musicians alike for such wonderful tributes for Russ. In such short time the post has been shared approaching 250 times on Facebook. Please do keep the tributes coming. I share each and every on of your sentiments!

  13. Syd Appleton says:

    Such sad news once again for the jazz family. Unfortunately I have only seen Russ perform with The Bennett Brothers Band once at The Concorde Club a few years ago. The evening was full of great swinging music and equal amounts of fun. I even bought a C.D. which is a tribute in itself. My condolences to my good friend Martin, Sue, Richard and their family at this tragic time…… Syd

  14. Ralph Marsh says:

    A great shock – we were all looking forward to seeing Russell again next month.
    A one of a kind entertainer, whose great talent was wrapped up with a keen wit, and delivered with devastating enthusiasm. As with many others, it will be a long time before any of us can have a wet without thinking of Russell.
    Our thoughts go out to all the family after this terrible news.
    With much sympathy.
    Wraysbury’s Jazz Club

  15. Dear Martin
    We are devastated over your loss of Russ, and to all who met him, a great and enthusiastic guy.
    from all the pilgrims and us.
    Burtie and Eileen

  16. Lenny Edwards says:

    R I P Russ, you were such an inspiration, in everything you done on the jazz scene, my late partner Ruth absolutely loved your music and how you presented it. you always gave her hug and a kiss when ever we made the trip down to the 51 club in cornwall, or sometimes we seen you in somerset where we lived. Lenny.

  17. Emma Scowen says:

    i first met the Bennett brothers 20 years ago at dove holes beer and jazz festival while helping my mother in law out behind the bar, both Russell and Richard came to the bar and the banter began, I thought what a pair of cards, and if this is what jazz is about then count me out. But hearing them play I was hooked, and 20 years later I’m still behind the bar at the beer and jazz festival. My son Charlie has also now got in to jazz and helps Roger Marshal out with the sound system and the Bennett’s always take time to chat with him even though he’s only 13 years old, and Martin has never forgot to sing happy birthday to my daughter as it falls on jazz weekend. This just shows you what a friendly, considerate family they are. So my thoughts are with all the famy at this sad hard time. RIP Russell you will be sourly missed x
    Emma & Charlie Scowen

  18. Kevin & Linda Peace says:

    Our heartfelt sympathy to all Russell’s family and Jazz family.
    Over the last few years we have spent many happy hours travelling up and down the country to listen to the band. As soon as Russ saw us he would come and give Linda one of those big wet kisses of his and a big hug and always made time to chat to us. Often he would comment on the fact that we had travelled so far (up to 200 miles) just to see them. We always told him the reason was that there Music made our hearts sing and made us feel young again.
    We had the pleasure of being at The Globe in Bude on bank holiday Monday which was fantastic he was on top form and the last time we saw him was September 9th at Sutton Coalfield entertaining us all with that playful character of his shinning through, the Russell we all love and will miss terribly. Thank you Russell for The Music and Great Times.
    We are having a Wet for you.
    Kevin and Linda

  19. Sue Derrick says:

    Devastated at the loss of such a good friend. Russ leaves us with so many memories. He had such a lovely nature, warm, kind and so full of fun. A brilliant musician and entertainer. He has made countless people laugh. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.

  20. Christine Harris says:

    Well this is soooo sad ,such a big loss, a lovely cheerfull man who made me smile always xx R I P , thoughts to your close friends and family

  21. Steve and Izzy Whiteley says:

    We met Russell and Rich and band in Chudleigh where they played several times at Whiteley family parties (through Nigel Watts, my bro in law, who also sadly passed last year) Marye, our mother/m in law, was a huge jazz fan and adored them. They were good enough to play at her wake in 2006 which was the last time we saw them, making us laugh and cry in equal measure. A lovely bloke and huge talent, very sad to hear this news. Our condolences to his family

  22. SID ANNING says:

    It is said, “all the good die young”, and I think this applied to this lovely Man. Russell always had time for everyone – whether you knew him or not, and was genuine to the core. Whenever I saw him he would always made you feel welcome; that was the measure of the man.
    Jazz without Russ will somehow not seem the same without his skylarking and tomfoolery. He was unique in this field and I am sure he will be sorely missed. Yes, I am sure as some would say that he was hard work, but can you imagine him not being the way he was – as I simply cannot.
    Rest in peace Russ, you were unique and will never be forgotten. My condolence To Martin and Rich in your sad loss of a wonderful and lovely Man.

  23. CrazyKen Hall says:

    R.I.P. Russ Loved you lots!
    I recorded and produced the Bennett Band’s very first 2 cds, None of my jellyroll, recorded on 20th August 2002 at The Britannia Club, Loughton and The Bennett Boys Back at The Bay. 8th October 2002 at the Bay Jazz Club, Enfield. When they were playing at these venues they would often come to spend the night and I would cook one of my “infamous curries” Such wonderful memories! So hard to believe he has gone away!

  24. Damian Lay says:

    How lucky I was to get to meet Russell and although only twice I got to see and hear him play, the last time was one of Dad’s festivals at Sand Bay where I got the pleasure of spending time chatting away over a few beers as he was there also the whole weekend. Wow! what a genuinely great bloke who seemed to have me smiling and laughing the whole time . Also he made some really nice comments about my Dad that made me very proud. Plus he told me some funny stories about times he’d sat and chat with the Gambit lads and what a brilliant band he thought they was on and off stage. Just gutted I didn’t get to meet him alot more as I say he really was a great bloke who was so much fun to be around. Such a shame that such a nice man so young with a great future in jazz has been taken away from us,terribly sad but will be remembered for his personality and sense of humour. I have only met brother Richard but have heard their Dad on C.D. I know from chatting with my Dad about the family they’re all musical even their Mum plays piano.Please to all the family accept my condolences and love and best wishes to you all,sorry for your loss it’s a cruel world that we’re in, so now Russell I wish you to R.I.P. and keep on jazzing with all the other jazz legends your now be with probably be some festival up there. You will be missed by all that got to meet,see,hear you .God bless you mate!

  25. mick jordan says:

    Very sad to hear about Russ I have seen him perform with Roadkill many times over the last few years as well as being a great musician he was a very comical man.

  26. Katy McGrory says:

    He was just jazz. And there is nothing more perfect than jazz.

    Heartfelt condolences.

  27. Angela Bolitho says:

    So so sorry to hear this news. Saw the Bennett Brothers play many times at The Falmouth Packet, The Smugglers and at The Union Hotel. Russell was a star! Always on good form! We loved him. Big love to all the family. X

  28. Angela Bolitho says:

    So so sorry to hear this news. Saw the Bennett Brothers play many times at The Falmouth Packet, The Smugglers and at The Union Hotel. Russell was a star! Always on good form! We loved him. Big love to all the family. X

  29. Paul & Sue Badger says:

    Dear Richard , Martin and Family We are so so Sorry to hear this very sad news , we loved Watching and listening to all the wonderful music with Russell such a joyous personality. Many happy memories.
    words cant express our sadness. Thanks Russ we listen to your music often on the cds you made with Richard and the band.
    We are going to have a wet now.

    Paul & Sue Badger

  30. Ros Griffiths says:

    Truly sorry to learn of Russell’s loss. My thoughts are with his family. Last saw him at Bude in August and thought how great he looked. Jock Wilson, one time bass player with Panama Jazz Kings, would have been very sad indeed. He was particularly fond of Russ, treasured the friendship of an “up and coming jazz musician so young and so fine..”

  31. Peter Butler says:

    Baby Jools’ Jazzaholics paid a wonderful tribute to Russ Bennett at Sutton Coldfield Trad Jazz Club on Wednesday, 21st October, which Dennis Shaw has sent to me to share on Jazz&Jazz and Jazzers.!reviews/rs1t6

  32. Jamie (Spinnin' Jim) and Suzanne says:

    Last month Russell played at our wedding and sang Lazy Bones for us. The happiness of our big day has now been replaced with huge sadness of hearing the devastating news of his passing. Russell was such a considerate, likeable and polite fellah, a man of great wit and, oh boy, his performances on stage with his yelps and clapping, anecdotes, and urging audience participation were legendary. You are in our thoughts, RIP Russell.
    Jamie & Suzie

  33. Mary & Ken Thomas says:

    We first saw the Bennets in Cornwall after Martin had asked us to promote them at Hilden Manor Jazz Club which we did in May 1999. They came in a old van which they slept under in the car park. Adrian Cox played with them on that occasion and decided to join them when he had finished his GCSEs. They played for us many times and we have followed them whenever we could. They always gave an exciting, lively performance enhanced by Russell’s stories and jokes. Our sincere condolences to Martin, Richard and family for the loss of a warm, friendly lovely person. Mary & Ken Thomas

  34. Susie Gibbs says:

    I am devastated to hear this, I am so so sad and sorry. My words cannot express my sorrow for your loss and for the loss that this world will feel without a soul like his in it. I am so, so, sorry and so, so sad.

  35. Paddy Purnell says:

    I am humbled and so privillaged to have played many gigs with Russ over the last 3 years, for that I will be forever grateful. His humour and spirit will never be matched.
    A true legend.
    Right-on Russ!

  36. Jim Callander says:

    When the phone call came last Monday to tell me the tragic news, I just couldn’t believe it. A superb talent and a lovely, kind young man who always made time to chat over a beer or two, or three… He was a true individual, never to be forgotten. All of us at the Edinburgh Jazz ‘n’ Jive Club send our sincere condolences to Martin, Richard and all the family.

  37. Pam and Jeff Madge says:

    So incredibly sad at the untimely passing of the hugly talented and lovely Russ. There is a saying that it’s not the number of years lived but the amount of life in the years of life and we would all agree that Russ had so much life in his years. What a very much loved man, our hearts go out to his family. He will always be fondly remembered.

  38. Peter Butler says:

    Martin Bennett and His Old Green River Band pay a brave tribute to his son Russ at Lemsford Jazz Club on Sunday, 25th October.

  39. Jazz has always had its fair share of characters who rightly believe it is as important to engage with their audiences and entertain as it is to create great music. And none did it better than Russ Bennett. He quickly won audiences over with his infectious impish personality as much as with his tuneful and exciting playing. I hope it’s not all harps up there for they would be missing out on a terrific trombonist guaranteed to put a smile on any face. His music will live on.

  40. Caroline and peter says:

    So sorry to hear about Russell, lovely guy gave us great pleasure over the jazz years! Our love and thoughts are with you all. Will miss him lots. Caroline and Peter xx (Hereford jazz club)

  41. Chris Watford says:

    I can particularly empathize with the devastating loss of Russell, as I suffered a brain haemorrhage back in 1976 at the age of 40. Unlike Russell, I somehow managed to survive with the help of Cy Laurie and his partner Veronica, who applied what they called Absent Healing on me, and after a break of 20 years I was able to resume playing. Sadly, Russell has not been so lucky. My sincere commiserations go to Martin , Richard , and their family. I recall meeting Russell when he had just started playing banjo at a local jazz session near Exeter, and a nicer young man I could not wish to meet.

  42. Badger and Belinda says:

    Really shocked and sadden by the news of the loss of Russell, remember seeing him on banjo fifteen or so years ago and remember what a great rhythm player he was, caught up with him at Bude festival this year and with trombone in hand he was as always on good form. A real honest jazz player who will be greatly missed, our thoughts go out to Richard and all the family.

    Badger & Belinda

  43. Brett says:

    Very sorry to hear this sad news.

  44. William Lavooi says:

    Dear Russell,
    When I have done my time
    And Petrus lets me in;
    I have only to walk where the sound of Jazz reaches me.
    I know you are there and we’ll meet again.

    Your friend William ( from Holland)

  45. Wendy & John Lawrence says:

    Russell gave a new meaning to the words ‘Bright Star of Jazz’. Always so cheerful, fun-loving and everyone’s friend. We will never know now if he might eventually have progressed on the dance floor! All our love, Russell – rest in peace.

  46. Rita bailey says:

    Dear family can’t believe that we won’t see and be able to laugh along with Russell again have seen him so many times and always enjoyed the entertainment. Richard my heart goes out to you it was so obvious that you were so close. Many a time looking at Russell with a kindly smile enjoying his antics too !! Your band drew us to go to festivals knowing we would enjoy watching you both and have missed other planned things to see you at Sutton Coldfield jazz club. Please play something he liked from our club to him. Have had the pleasure of seeing you both in Cornwall especially the night we came to Bude to your locals night with you on keyboard it was such a fun night. Over the years have had many hugs from him shall not forget him. Take care of you Richard and very best wishes to all your family. Keep playing jazz and he will always be with you. Love and big hug Rita X

  47. david oliver says:

    What a devastating loss to the jazz world. During my time with the 1066 Jazz Club they booked the band on many occasions. The band were more than musicians, but friends as well and always gave their all. Sincere sympathies to Martin and Richard.

  48. Francine O'Connor says:

    So sorry to hear of the sad lost of Russ Bennett. Such a great musician always with a witty sense of humour and entertainment.A great Jazz player will be very much missed.
    Sincere sympathies to all his family.
    Fran and Nigel
    Bude Jazz club

  49. Jill says:

    Have just heard of this tragic loss. Russ and the band played at The Angel Helston, for a very special Birthday that I celebrated. The Brothers and band made Helston come alive that night.
    Russ will be missed so much.
    Love Paul and Jill

  50. Peter Butler says:

    Thank you Jill and Paul – you will see that this tragic news received many hundreds of laments he was so well loved as a man and a musician.


  51. liz wright says:

    We are so sorry only just found out we were gobsmacked great guy and fantastic musician had great evenings at the Railway Inn St Agnes, will be missed love to you all xx Liz and Tony

  52. Mike Macconnell says:

    Only just found out about this as I lost touch with the boys a few years ago …I am gutted…he was a great musician and a good freind. ..I am truly heartbroken. ..Mike from Congleton.

  53. Peter Butler says:

    You join a long list of sympathisers, Mike. Russell will not be forgotten.

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