What does Australian rocker Russell Morris, The Dish and Apollo 11 all have in common?
The 1969 moon landing – and there is more than one connection.
The number one selling Platinum artist first released his debut single The Real Thing in 1969, which featured prominently in the 2000 Australian movie, The Dish, that is set in Parkes during the historic first Apollo moon landing.
Come Wednesday, Russell will be inducted onto the Parkes Elvis Festival Wall of Fame, also 50 years to the day since Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins were announced as the Apollo 11 crew (January 9, 1969).
Russell is being honoured as not only a pioneer of the Australian music industry, but a continued force that is sure to set this year’s festival off to a rockin' start.
To celebrate this achievement, Russell will perform an intimate 60 minute show for festival fans, teaming up with who he describes as a brilliant guitarist Pete Robinson at the Parkes Services Club.
“Russell is a legend of the Australian music industry and we can't wait to honour his more than 50 year career,” festival director Cathy Treasure said.
“The best part, The Real Thing has a link to Parkes – it featured in [the iconic movie The Dish].
“And we think it’s quite fitting that Russell will perform in Parkes on January 9, 2019, exactly 50 years to the day since Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were announced as the Apollo 11 crew.”
Russell shot to fame in the band Somebody’s Image that had its first top 20 hit in 1968 with Hide & Seek. He quickly caught the eye of Ian 'Molly' Meldrum, who as his manager/producer, guided Russell to pursue a solo career in September 1968.
Molly and Russell teamed up to release the number one psychedelic hit, The Real Thing, which received international acclaim and topped charts in the USA, and continues to be played on commercial radio across the Australia.
Russell continues to perform after 53 years in the music industry and still tours nationally and internationally. Having such an illustrious career has seen him perform with industry legends such as Cher, The Bee Gees, Linda Ronstadt and The Beach Boys.
The Elvis Wall of Fame induction ceremony is one of the most unique experiences audiences enjoy at the Parkes Elvis Festival, where fans get to soak up the artists behind the music.
Russell said it was a nice surprise when he found out he was the 2019 inductee.
“It’s lovely to be recognised and it’s a lovely gesture from the organisers,” he said.
“It’s an honour to receive anything like this.”
This will be Russell’s first time experiencing the Parkes Elvis Festival.
“I was on an Elvis cruise once and that was frightening,” he laughed.
“It was like a Stephen King book – I’d walk down stairs for breakfast and there Elvis would be sitting in the corner eating, or I’d walk out on the deck and Elvis would be there having a coffee.
“They don’t go out of character.”
And that’s what Russell is sure to discover at the Elvis Festival too.
But he said he’s looking forward to the experience, the day and meeting people from Parkes and around Australia.
“It’s all about life’s experiences and something you have to be grateful for,” he said.
Russell will also have the opportunity to visit the Dish while he’s in Parkes.
Coincidentally, besides music, astrophysics is one of Russell’s biggest passions.
“I get jittery when I talk to astrophysicists, I’m really excited about going to the Dish and I hope I get to talk to someone there,” he said.