Howard Russell “Russ” Smith

Howard Russell “Russ” Smith

Howard Russell "Russ" Smith was born on June 17, 1949, to the late Howard Allen Smith and Rosa Russell Smith.

Russ was a 1967 graduate of Macon County High School.

He was blessed with two sons.

Almost every night with the Amazing Rhythm Aces, Russell Smith sang, "my soul cries out for rest, and the end is not in sight."

It's with heavy hearts that we inform you that on July 12 those cries were finally answered, and he is now resting peacefully. Russell completed his journey on life's railway after 70 years of doing things his own way.

Russell's soulful voice and artfully-crafted lyrics helped develop the signature Amazing Rhythm Aces sound that defined an era and transcended genre labels. Like their sound, Russell, himself, was a little southern, a little rock and roll, a pinch of bluegrass gospel, and an endless supply of soul. It won't surprise his fans or friends and family that his love of music lasted through his final days, with some of his final conversations spent talking about the music he so loved and how certain songs shaped his life. He remarked about how every performance, through his last encore, was filled with the magic that only live music can provide and how thankful he was for the dedicated love he received from fans from across the globe.

Russell lived to entertain, to help folks feel a connection with one another, and hoped to leave the world better off for having had him in it. While he undoubtedly fulfilled those hopes in his time here, he would have wanted to cement his legacy with lyrics from one of his all-time favorite songs -- "Give Me My Flowers While I'm Living" -- which the Aces recorded in 1980. It was a reminder to tell loved ones how you feel, and to be kind to everyone while you can, because the people who need those kind words and deeds can't receive them when they're gone. In this world is where we need our flowers, a kind word to help us get along.

"If you can't give me flowers while I'm living, please don't send them when I'm gone. Won't you give me my flowers while I'm living? Let me enjoy them while I can. Please don't wait till I'm ready to be buried, and then slip some lilies in my hand."

Russell is survived by: his sons, Jesse Lee Smith (and wife Jessika), Matthew Miles Smith (and wife Katherine); sister, Cathy Smith Kemp (and husband, Joe); and grandchildren, Hunter Smith and Genevieve Smith. Numerous extended family, friends, band mates, and fans also survive.

Funeral services were conducted on July 17 from the chapel of Alexander Funeral Home, with Dwight Dyer officiating. Interment followed in the Testament Primitive Baptist Church cemetery.

Alexander Funeral Home was in charge of the arrangements.