Russell Johnson, the best ears on earthmain
My day has been clouded by news of Russell’s death. An unobtrusive little man in rumpled suits, he transformed concert halls over the past 35 years – not just the acoustics of the room but the very atmosphere.
Russell’s signature halls were Birmingham, Lucerne and Dallas. There were many others but these were his pride and joy, the ones where he made fewest compromises. He was totally frank and open about the way he worked – no smoke, no mirrors, no fake science – and he was bitterly contemptuous of colleagues who were cowed by star architects into accepting a less than perfect sound solution.
Above all, he was a lovely guy, a smalltown kid who put himself through college on the GI Bill after discovering by chance – after fighting in the Philippines in 1944 – that he could hear things in a hall that none of his friends noticed. He was honest, unpretentious and good company. I shall miss him greatly, and I won’t be the only one.