Tom Russell was born in Los Angeles. He graduated from the University of alifornia, Santa Barbra, witha master's degree in sociology of law and criminology. In 1969, he spenta yearteaching in Ibandan, Nigeria, during the Biafra war.
Since releasing his first album in the mid-1970s, Tom Russell has become a legend in the americana music scene, with close to 40 recordings. Russell songs have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Doug Sahm, Nanci Griffith, K.D. Lang, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Ian Tyson, Iris Dement, Joe Ely, and a hundred others.
The musician has published five books, including a book on his art and his songs. In 2016 russell published a book of essays / Ceremonies of the Horsemen/ The essays, are centered on the american westand include an essay on Johnny Cash for which russell won the 2015 ASCAPA award for music journalism . The artist has appeared on late night show with David Letterman five times.
In 2003 Russell released another passion being a self-taught painter, as he explores the west. His works reveal his passion for the historical west in vivid colors as he portrays the indigenous cultural history, where buried stories rise to the surface. This cultural historical background is also prevalent in his music.
Tom Russell's art has been acquired by the El Paso Museum of Art and is featured in galleries around the world, including the Rainbow Man in Santa Fe, the Liss Gallery in Toronto, Yard Dog in Austin, the Silvia Gallery in Switzerland, Cattle Tracks and Bill Bishop Gallery in scottsdale, amoung others.