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Russ Kunkel

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Talented, creative and true gentlemen of the music business are words often used to describe Russ Kunkel. Although the renowned drummer’s big break came three decades ago, his combined talents as performer, producer, and songwriter have kept him in demand with the top names in rock and roll. 

Born in Pittsburgh in 1948, Kunkel moved to Southern California in the early 60’s. He drummed in a series of groups before forming the band, Things to Come. While house band at the legendary Whisky-A-Go-Go, they opened for some of the top names of the era including Cream, Traffic, and The Byrds. His talent caught the ear of Joel Sill at Trousdale Music and later Apple Records head Peter Asher, who was recruiting players for an album by new artist James Taylor. Kunkel played on Taylor’s debut album, “Sweet Baby James” and before long found himself playing with George Harrison, Bob Dylan and others. Kunkel went on to write, perform and record with the LA-based jazz-rock group The Section. Among his songwriting credits are hits with Aaron Neville, Clannad, Joe Cocker, Jimmy Buffett and “Tender is the Night” with Jackson Browne and Danny Kortchmar. He also created and co produced film scores for Mike Nichol’s “Heartburn”, Joyce Chopra’s “Smooth Talk”, and “Certain Fury” for New World Films. 

First known for his expressive, lyrical drumming style, Kunkel has also earned a solid commercial reputation for musical creativity and artistic sensitivity as a producer. During his career, Kunkel has toured, done session work, produced and/or written hit songs with musicians including Steve Winwood, Linda Ronstadt, Dan Fogelberg, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Joe Walsh, James Taylor, Carole King, Jackson Browne, Bob Seger, Stevie Nicks, Simon & Garfunkel, Carly Simon, Aaron Neville, Clannad, Bonnie Raitt, The BeeGees, Reba McEntire, Kenny Rogers, Wynonna, Lyle Lovett and Jimmy Buffett. 

Russ Kunkel’s busy career includes recording and touring with Lyle Lovett, since 2003. In 2010, Russ completed the Troubadour Reunion Tour with James Taylor, Carole King and the original band, Lee Sklar and Danny Kortchmar. Kunkel’s range of creative talents, his musical sensibilities and his easy-going manner have kept this consummate music pro in demand for many years. It is these same qualities that will keep him in demand for years to come.  Along with his continued work with Lyle Lovett, Russ performs with The Immediate Family, also featuring legendary guitarists Danny Kortchmar, Waddy Wachtel, Steve Postell and iconic bassist Leland Sklar.