Darrell ‘Mister D’ Russell, 55: Karaoke DJ had ‘big personality’

Darrell Russell was a man on the move. With more jobs than family members could count, he was always going from one thing to the next.

If he wasn’t running karaoke, he might be playing golf, working on a photography project or chatting up fans in Section 108 at Braves games, where he worked for 20 years, his wife said.

“He had a big personality,” Ana Russell said. “People everywhere seemed to love him. We’d go to the movies and he’d be offering popcorn to people two rows back we didn’t even know. But that was Darrell.”

Jeanette Roberts said her brother was “young at heart,” and could carry on a conversation with anybody.

“He loved the time he grew up in, but he could talk to the kids, too,” Roberts said. “He was old school, but in-the-now at the same time.”

Darrell Bernard Russell of Snellville died suddenly Saturday after experiencing a heart attack. He was 55. A service is planned for 11 a.m. Friday at Word of Faith Worship Cathedral, Austell. Burial at Lincoln Cemetery will follow. Tri-Cities Funeral Home, Lithonia, is in charge of arrangements.

An Atlanta native, Russell graduated from Newnan High School before joining the Army. After four years of service, he returned to Georgia and earned a degree in business administration from the former Atlanta Area Tech, now Atlanta Technical College.

For several years Russell was in the hospitality industry, where he worked in marketing sales. He also worked in the gaming industry, promoting properties in Tunica, Miss., and Cherokee, N.C.

It was on a golf trip to Mississippi that Russell fell in love with karaoke, his wife said. A friend wanted to stop by a nightspot owned by family members to say hello. While the group was there, Russell took to the stage to sing a tune.

“The karaoke bug bit him right then and there,” his wife said.

The Russells started having karaoke parties in their basement, and soon the fun grew into a business, Lion’s Den. The enterprise included musical entertainment and photography, two of Russell’s passions, she said.

Several nights a week, Russell, whose stage name was “Mister D,” could be found at various venues across the metro area. He had a following, no matter the venue, said his business partner, Fredrick “Leo” Spears.

“He had a way of making people feel comfortable, especially if they were shy or if they didn’t think they could sing,” Spears said. “He really just wanted to see people have fun. If he could have made everybody happy and taken care of everybody he met, that would have made him happy.”

In addition to his wife and sister, Russell is survived by sons Perez Arnold, Antonio Hart and Antonio Russell; daughter Kayla Knox; brother Anthony Russell; and three grandchildren.

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