It all began innocently enough...

Back in the summer of 2000, Modern Drummer magazine ran a short piece on (then just Mr.) Joe Russo, and his band at the time, Fat Mama. It was just another typical guitar-mag puff piece - a little bit of history about the band, followed by a brief interview with Russo, who answered questions about his gear, his influences, and so forth.

Most Americans don't realize this, but if you ask your average tabloid-reading Brit, they'll be well aware that their
highest-ranking male monarch, Prince Charles, is an avid drummer, who frequently uses his power and influence to leverage jam sessions with many of the world's greatest players. And it so happens that his sons, always eager to encourage their father's hobbies, had bought him a gift subscription to Modern Drummer the previous Christmas.
Mostly the copies would just accumulate at his summer castle, but every now and then when Chaz got worn out from expanding his empire & ordering the beheadings of insubordinates, he would thumb through a copy, in the vain hope of finding a piece on one of the jazz drummers he idolized in his youth.

And so it was that fate brought the little Russo blurb to the monarch's eye. Charles was immediately taken by the
description of Fat Mama as 'a cutting-edge fusion band incorporating hip-hop and electronic beats.' Of course, he
had no idea what hip-hop even is, but it occurred to him that this band might be something he and his sons would
share an interest in, and could bond over. So he had his major domo order a Fat Mama album from Amazon, and
when it arrived he was immediately captivated by the band's unique, mysterious sound, and the obvious jazz chops
each of them possessed. Charles spent weeks in the practice room (princes nowadays don't really have much to do,
truth be told...), playing the album on repeat in headphones, trying to emulate Russo's drumming, but couldn't capture
his intensity, or the unfamiliar, complex rhythms he was hearing.

So he did what any irrelevant feudal holdover would in that situation: he summoned the drummer to England for
a private lesson.

Needless to say, Joe, at the time broke and living in a shitty New York walk-up, was thoroughly confused when he
started getting mail and voice messages from the English consulate. He was understandably afraid that this was
fallout from an incident that had occurred on Fat Mama's previous European tour (which is better left undiscussed),
so he dodged them as best he could and went about his life.

Until, that is, the British ambassador himself was dispatched personally to track Russo down. Not willing to risk
his ruler's legendary wrath, he pounded the pavement of New York for weeks, always a step behind his
elusive quarry.

He finally caught up with him one night at Wetlands - Russo wasn't performing, but rather hanging out at a Guster
show, taking advantage of the sadly-defunct club's generous free beer policy and conspiring to corrupt underage
girls. When the ambassador produced his credentials, our fearless hero did what any sane person would in his situation - he ran like hell, visions of a lifetime spent wasting in a Welsh jail ricocheting through his head. But of
course the ambassador always travels with an extensive security detail, who apprehended Russo as soon as
he made it through the doors, and hustled him into a waiting towncar.

When he saw that the car had a wet bar, Joe felt instantly at home, and his stress subsided greatly The
ambassador explained the purpose of his mission, and that it would be very much in Joe's best interest to take
the Prince up on his generous offer. In fact, it soon became clear, he had little say in the matter, as the car
was en route directly to Kennedy Airport, where a British Airways jet was being held on the ground awaiting the arrival of its distinguished passenger.

Over the ensuing months, Joe flew back and forth to the British Isles a number of times, tutoring the world's funkiest monarch in a number of areas, particularly jungle beats, which Charles wanted to master in order to impress his sons - who, like most English kids their age, were deep into donning disguises, going to clubs, ingesting illicit substances, and dancing the night away. As time went on, the prince grew quite fond of his young American teacher,
and, under his instruction, before long Charles could drop drum 'n' bass ferocity that would put Jojo Mayer to shame.

When Russo arrived for what was to be his final lesson, Charles was rather choked up, and sprung a little surprise
on his new friend: he'd had a stage built on the palace's grounds, outfitted with turntables, two drum kits and a full
lighting rig. He'd hired a stacked lineup of England's top jungle DJ's to put on a private show for his sons, and told
them to invite all their friends. What he didn't tell them, though, was that, right when all their drugs were peaking, their
own father was going to take the stage beside Russo for a dual-drummer live drum n' bass extravaganza.

As the DJ's spun and the princes danced, the unlikely pair shared cognac and cigars and reminisced about their
times together. Their set, of course, was a roaring success, and at the end of the night Harry and William's
saucer-eyed friends were mobbing Chaz, giving him 'props' and 'pounds', repeatedly telling him they had no idea
their erstwhile ruler could 'throw down so hard'.

Charles was overjoyed. At last he had succeeded in making his sons understand that their father, despite all his
power and responsibility, was once a carefree lad who loved to party the night away every bit as much as they did.
For weeks he could barely suppress himself, beaming with pride as he underwent his daily duties of demanding
taxes from his colonists and having tea. Soon he realized that the free trips to England, luxurious accommodations
and unfettered access to the maids' quarters were not enough to show his gratitude to the man who'd made it
all possible.

He contemplated giving Russo one of his scepters, or a small island, but somehow such paltry gestures seemed
inadequate. And then it struck him: for his distinguished service to the British royal family, this man was deserving
of nothing less than the highest honor the crown could bestow.

While technically only British citizens are eligible to be knighted, one of the perks of being a prince is that you can
pretty much do whatever the hell you want. It took no small amount of pleading for Charles to convince his mother,
the queen, to agree to such an unprecedented and unorthodox act, but the first time she saw how her grandchildren
newly idolized their pop, her heart filled with joy, and her objections soon withered away.

And so in a private ceremony on June 11th, 2001, Joe Russo, a New Jersey boy of humble beginnings, became
Sir Joe Russo, loyal servant of the British crown. Knighted alongside him were Sean Connery and the legendary
stage actor Alex McCracken.