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Friday, April 17, 1992 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Andy Russell, Who Sang `Besame Mucho'

AP

PHOENIX - Andy Russell, the 1940s crooner who popularized such classics as "Besame Mucho" and "What A Difference A Day Makes," died yesterday. He was 72.

Mr. Russell died at St. Joseph's Hospital of complications from a stroke he suffered in February, said Leo Walker, a longtime friend.

Mr. Russell, born Andres Rabago in East Los Angeles, reached stardom about the same time as Frank Sinatra and Perry Como. A drummer and singer in a number of bands, Russell hit it big with "Besame Mucho."

The song was the first of a string of million-sellers for Mr. Russell. He followed with "What A Difference A Day Makes," "Laughing On the Outside," "Magic Is The Moonlight" and "Amor."

Mr. Russell spent much of the 1950s and 1960s in Latin America. He returned to the United States in the late 1960s and continued to sing, but wasn't able to recapture the fame he once enjoyed.

"Chicano music is Andrew Russell," said Steven Loza, director of Ethnic Musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. "He personified that whole experience."

Mr. Russell is survived by his wife, Doris; brothers Eddie and Tommy Russell; a sister, Vera Personett; a son, Andy Jr.; and five stepchildren. Private services will be held.

Copyright (c) 1992 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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