American record producer, songwriter, and three-time Grammy winner, Russ Titelman, is responsible for a number of records that have truly made our lives better. On our latest Give Vance a Chance podcast episode, Russ sits down with host Ronny Vance to chat about his fascinating journey from unknown songwriter to famed record producer.
His first big break came at the age of 13, when he garnered the attention of a young Phil Spector whilst playing guitar in his family living room. As a mere teenager, he went on to write songs for the Chiffons, the Hollies, the Cinderellas, Dusty Springfield, Randy Newman and many more. Even then, he was dedicated to studying and improving his craft. “I was so immersed in it back then- who produced the record, who wrote it, who arranged it…We would just dissect records and listen to the radio in the car.”
He ultimately transitioned from “Russ the songwriter to Russ the record producer,” and though he worked with some of the biggest names in music, he never seemed overwhelmed or intimidated by the moment. “I don’t know if I had to sublimate my awe- by then it was just ‘let's write, let's do something and see what happens,’ and they were all so generous and so open and so kind.”
Russ earned his first Grammy producing Steve Winwood’s "Higher Love", his second for Eric Clapton’s “Tears in Heaven'' (from the "Rush" movie soundtrack), and his third for the 1992 Album of the Year, with Clapton's iconic “Unplugged,” which to this day, remarkably remains to be the highest-selling live album of all-time. Titleman also co-produced Clapton’s "From the Cradle," and Milton Nascimentos' "Nascimento" record, both of which also won Grammy awards.
The episode is packed with wonderful behind-the-scenes anecdotes behind many of the legendary tracks Russ has had a hand in over the years, including James Taylor's “How Sweet It Is,” as well as Chaka Khan & Rufus’ ““Ain’t Nobody.”
For Russ’s full chat with Ronny, and more episodes in our podcast series, click HERE.