Russell Dunlop (1945-2009) was a prominent Australian musician, singer, composer and record producer-engineer, best known for his partnership with Bruce Brown and their co-production of notable 1980s albums and singles by Australian performers including Mental As Anything, The Reels and Machinations.
He began playing in bands as a drummer at 16 and in the late 1960s he joined Aesop's Fables, a pop vocal group featuring singer Cheryl Blake and organist Gary Moberly, who went on to work with The Bee Gees. Dunlop also soon found himself in steady demand for session work as a drummer and vocalist.
In February 1970, Moberley and Dunlop formed a new version of the band, initially called "The New Aesop's Fables", with Brenda Glover (vocals, ex-Jet Set), Brian Holloway (guitar; ex-The Dream, Image) and Owen Booth (bass). Holloway quit about two months later and was replaced by Melbourne guitar legend Les Stacpool. The band moved to Melbourne in mid-1970, where Charlie Tumahai briefly replaced Booth as bassist in mid-1970. It was during this period that Dunlop met Judi Johnston and they married three months later.
Aesop's Fables' only single was "Little Yellow Pills" / "Sandman" which came out as the first single on Gus McNeil's Generation Records label in February 1971, several months after the group had split. "Little Yellow Pills" was a cover of a song by British singer Jackie Lomax, and "Sandman" was a Les Stacpool original.
During 1972 Dunlop played drums on several songs on the album Prussian Blue, the debut LP by singer-songwriter Richard Clapton, and in January 1973 Clapton briefly replaced Renee Geyer as lead singer of Sun.
In the mid-1970s Dunlop replaced original drummer Mark Kennedy in the jazz-rock fusion band Ayers Rock, touring the United States and renewing his friendship with Jimmy Doyle; the two subsequently toured Australia many times in the Aussie Blue Flames, backing the British performer Georgie Fame. Dunlop also recorded and toured with the Aunty Jack Show team, among many other acts, while becoming more involved in recording.
In the late '70s, Dunlop began a highly successful collaboration with producer-engineer Bruce Brown at Albert Studios and they formed their own independent production company BAD (Brown And Dunlop).
Dunlop’s credits as producer or co-producer (with Bruce Brown) include Machinations' Esteem, Mental As Anything’s Cats and Dogs and Creatures of Leisure, Jon English's "Words Are Not Enough" and the Doug Ashdown hit single "Winter In America". As well as recording dozens of local acts, Dunlop and Brown enjoyed success of their own right as a recording act with the 1980 novelty hit "Space Invaders", inspired by the popular video game of the same name, which they released under the pseudonym Player One for Warner Bros. Records. Under the pseudonym The Monitors, Brown and Dunlop scored another Australian hit with the single "Singing In The 80s".
Dunlop continued to play in live bands but session work gradually dried up during the 1990s, especially for drummers, as computerised rhythm machines increasingly replaced live musicians for recording. He worked as a radio operator for a courier company for a decade, before moving with his family to Lismore in 2007, where he set up a small studio, and more recently he worked as an ensemble coach at Southern Cross University. One of his last music projects was producing and mixing the soundtrack for the Rachel Ward movie Beautiful Kate, which had its world premiere at the Sydney Film Festival in June 2009.
Dunlop died suddenly in May 2009 while playing drums at his son's wedding in Sydney. He is survived by his wife Judi, son Aaron and daughter Kane.