But he is turning things round with a new darkly-funny video for his isolation song Because I Want You – a video he made because he had time left on a ten-year-old camera.
The video was Russell’s response to us all going back into lockdown.
“Having lost all my touring work and my complete way of life, unravelling slightly and feeling generally low, I managed to put some energy into recording one of my own songs.”
As he says, it tells a story of being in love and going slightly mad…
“I have played drums for people for many, many years. I was touring, and then suddenly everything was off. I have played for Midge Ure for 23 years and we have become pals. I was in Australia and New Zealand when all this (the virus) started closing in on us. It was the middle of a world tour.
“And I came back, and suddenly the old Google calendar reminding me where I should have been was like torture. I was supposed to be in Sweden, Spain, Italy and so on, and we were supposed to be finishing the Vienna tour in Vienna. But we were denied all that.
“I am pretty robust but there have been moments where I have felt that I was about to unravel because this is me, this is what I do. It was like a huge section of my life was taken away. I know that I am lucky and that other people have had it far worse than I have, but I have had moments of sulking like a petulant five-year-old because the whole of my life has gone. It was a bit of a shock!
“I have done some streaming gigs. I managed to do Ronnie Scott’s, so I am lucky that I have had some outlets, and then it was almost torture again when we went into the second lockdown. I did feel very deflated.”
The song – available on YouTube – is Russell’s way of lifting himself: “I recorded the song a while ago. I finished writing it before the first lockdown. I came back to it and during the first lockdown recorded it. It’s like an electro-gypsy-swing type song.
“This second lockdown I was starting to feel frustrated not having any outlets again so I got a ten-year-old camera that had 18 minutes of memory left on it and so did the video to go with the song.
“My house is a bit 70s style and my friend gave me a fantastic Spanish painting of a woman with a tambourine. The song is very personal to me, but for the video it becomes a story about falling in love with a painting.
“It is quite funny but you realise that it is quite darkly funny when you think about it!”
It’s a bright way to end a difficult year. Russell turned 50 and was looking forward to his best year yet in terms of touring, but all the tours were wiped out at a time when everything seemed to fit together so neatly.
His worry is that when the tours resume, they will be clashing with each other – and his options will be limited.
“But at least I have done this song and made the video, and it’s that thing of thinking ‘This doesn’t sound like me! It’s actually quite good!’ And it might make people laugh a bit!”