Russell Watson’s story reads like a fairy tale. Working as a bolt-cutter earning £29.50 a week, making a bit of extra cash in the evenings until, one day, he sung at a wedding in Wigan Road Working Men’s Club. He was encouraged to sing classical music by someone at the club, which paved the way for singing at Wembley Stadium and Old Trafford and so it continued.
He has since fought through two Pituitary tumours (brain tumours), released multiple platinum albums and performed in some of the world’s best venues.
His music is admittedly not everyone’s cup of tea but there is no denying that he has been well received by a great many people. He was lovely and welcoming and his love for animals was evident too, as we found out when he introduced us to three of his dogs, all adopted from rescue centres. We met at his grand house just outside Manchester. The place was filled with framed pictures and paraphernalia from Manchester Utd, platinum and gold records of his own, and pictures of himself performing, of his wedding or with family. We were treated to lunch before heading out to the woods to do the shoot.
It was evident to me that Russell knew his own fame and whom it appealed to. He made lightheartedly jokes about it and seemed playful and friendly. No doubt to me that the world which Russell finds himself is a world he is able to enjoy appearing in and at times socialising in, but behind closed doors he’s still the guy who sung Elvis classics down at the Old Mens Club. In the shower I bet there’s more of Love Me Tender being sung than Nessun Dorma. I don’t say that as a criticism, as I would probably be one who’d prefer a pint and some Elvis cover tunes down at the Old Men’s Club, rather than a rendition of Puccini’s Turandot in the Royal Albert Hall.
Shot for Saga Magazine