Published Nov 28, 2011Ken Russell, the filmmaker best known to music fans as the director of the Who's musical movie Tommy, passed away in hospital on Sunday (November 27) following a series of strokes. He was 84.
In addition to directing, co-writing and co-producing the 1975 movie adaptation of the Who's seminal rock opera, Russell was known for other renowned works like Women in Love (1969), The Devils (1971) and Altered States (1980). He also helmed music videos for Elton John ("Nikita"), Cliff Richard ("She's So Beautiful") and Bryan Adams ("Diana").
His 1975 film Lisztomania examined the life of 19th century pianist Franz Liszt and starred the Who's Roger Daltrey as Liszt and the Beatles' Ringo Starr as the pope.
Russell was also a published writer, having penned books on the film industry, a memoir called A British Picture: An Autobiography, explorations of the sex lives of famous composers, and science fiction novels.
BBC reports that Russell's widow Elize was "devastated" by her husband's "completely unexpected" passing. She said that he recently signed onto direct a musical feature based on Alice in Wonderland, and added, "He also had just completed an article for The Times on a review of the re-release of his film The Devils, so he was keeping himself very busy."
Russell was married four times and had eight children.