It is said that experience is the best teacher. And, for Aaron Russo it is his early exposure to the workplace, relying largely on his gut, creativity and ability to identify and latch on to opportunities as they came along that had transformed him into a self-made millionaire without the benefit of a college degree.
Aaron Russo was born on Valentine’s Day, 1943 in Brooklyn, New York. While growing up in Long Island, he worked for the family undergarment business where he picked up the value of money earned through hard work. Although there was no economic pressure for him to earn his keep, Russo promoted rock and roll concerts at local theaters even while he was still in high school. His early experience in the entertainment business prompted him to open his own nightclub in Chicago on April 4, 1968 when he was just 24.
Naming the club Kinetic Playground, Aaron Russo booked popular musicians and bands at that time like Janis Joplin, The Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, The Who, Iron Butterfly and Rotary Connection. Russo was also the first to book in the United States the famous Led Zeppelin. From 1972 to 1979, Aaron Russo managed The Manhattan Transfer and Bette Midler who starred in 1979 as Mary Rose Foster in his critically acclaimed production called “The Rose.” Russo received a Gold Record for producing the soundtrack of “The Rose,” which peaked at number 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1983. He also produced other films such as “Trading Places” and “Missing Pieces” which have been nominated for 2 Golden Globe and 6 Academy Awards. At the height of his career as a producer and director, Russo can command a professional fee of as high as $1 million, the first Hollywood producer to be able to do so.
In the 1990s, Aaron Russo turned to political activitism and produced “Aaron Russo’s Mad as Hell,” an hour-long videotape smouldering with criticism on the government’s war on drugs, taxation system, NAFTA and other regulatory measures. Intent on bringing his advocacies to the political mainstream, Russo ran for Republican nomination for Nevada governor in 1998 but lost. Six years later, in January of 2004, he he announced his intent to run in the presidential elections as an independent, but later to run under the Libertarian banner. Unfortunately, he again lost the nomination to Michael Badnarik. He supported the 2007 presidential bid of Congressman Ron Paul.
On August 24, 2007 Aaron Russo succumbed to bladder cancer in Los Angeles, California at the age of 64.