Purveyor of Fine Tunes for All Ages • Music and Movement Specialist • Writer
Born in Brooklyn and raised in Sheepshead Bay, Richard's musical influence came from his late mother, Gisele, a French-born artist and non-professional singer. It is family lore that when Gisele arrived at La Guardia airport in 1947 to marry her American ex-soldier fiancé Sidney Younger, she knew only two words of English: Frank Sinatra.
After a brief unmusical fling with the trumpet in fourth grade, Richard's parents got him guitar lessons at eleven. "I was lucky to find a wonderful teacher when I was very young who got me started on what has been a life-long journey. I learned two chords in my first lesson and could play and sing 'Tom Dooley.' After that - and the Beatles - there was no stopping."
Campfire sessions with his Boy Scout troop were followed by junior high school bands that never got beyond living rooms and garages. He wrote his first song, "You Might Call Me a Bum," on his twelfth birthday and through a family friend got to play the song for famed vocal group The Tokens at their Brill Building office, shepherded one rainy afternoon by older brother Phil. By the time he resumed his songwriting ten years later, Richard was regularly appearing at New York clubs like The Back Fence, the Bitter End and Folk City.
Four years after a 1973 visit to Paris, London and Chad (the African nation where his step-sister lived), Richard returned to Europe for an eight-month stay, busking in Greece and Paris and performing at numerous folk clubs in Holland and Denmark. Back in New York he and his former band, Driving Wheel, placed second in the one-time-only Manhattan Music Playoffs.
In the early 1980s, Richard joined The Treble Boys, a pop-rock band that appeared on the CBGB cable television show and was profiled in both Mix magazine and Teen Beat! Their single "Julie-Anne," written by Richard and recorded with drummer Andy Newmark (Roxy Music, John Lennon's Double Fantasy), has recently been included on the CD compilation Yellow Pills:Refill on the Numero Group label. In 1990, Richard was promoting his independently released album, Blue Horses (hailed as "outstanding" by Billboard), with an appearance at SWSX Music Festival in Austin. "Handful of Girls" from Blue Horses was also included on the compilation American Rockabilly (Nervous Records). However, the reality of being unable to advance his career beyond this point led Richard back to college and to consider a career away from music.
Upon completing his BA in Creative Writing/Music from Baruch College in 1993, Richard received the English Department Award in Journalism and a Reuters Travel Scholarship. Richard's musical training includes guitar study with John Monaco, Stefan Grossman, Larry Coryell, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Casady (bass); voice with Natalie and June Burgess; and children's education at Lucy Moses School and Diller Quaile.
Richard's journalistic efforts were published in MOJO, Newsday, The New York Times and numerous music magazines. "I was writing mostly about music, but I didn't think I would ever pursue it as a career again," he says. A deep connection to the music and career of country-soul pioneer Arthur Alexander sparked five years of research and resulted in the full-length biography Get A Shot of Rhythm and Blues: The Arthur Alexander Story (University of Alabama Press, 2000). Legendary Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler called the book " brilliant..the richest and most informative social and cultural history of fabled Muscle Shoals. Additionally, Richard contributed two scripts to the wildly entertaining book, Justin Green's Musical Legends (Last Gasp).
Richard's memories of the 1969 Woodstock Music and Art Fair are included in the new book, "Woodstock: Peace Music and Memories" (Krause). In 2009, Richard duplicated his "Woodstock Walk" of forty years earlier raised nearly $4,000 for the American Cancer Society.
The year Get A Shot of Rhythm and Blues was published, Richard and his wife, Barbara, welcomed their first daughter Michele (Sophie was born in 2002). Soon after, a new career was also born. The immediate thrill of playing at local playgroups and libraries led to his increasing musical work with children. "What's so great about working with kids is that the focus, rightly, is on them," Richard says. "What's important is not how perfectly you sing or how flashy you can play guitar, but being able to involve them, allowing them to experience the joys of music making -- from the encouragement of their natural creativity to social and personal growth."
Today, Richard is a music and movement teacher with the Church Street School for Music and Art and the Columbus Pre-School, as well as a contracted performer with Hospital Audiences and The Queens Library System. Gimme Gimme, his debut children's release, was produced by Pete Macnamara and recorded in Queens, New York, his home for the past fifteen years. This upbeat collection of original songs and children's standards ("Row Row Row Your Boat," "The Fox") includes a couple of "grown-up" songs (Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up Above My Head," and Delaney Bramlett's "Never Ending Song Love"). For Gimme Gimme he is the proud recipient of an iParenting Media Award.
"Circle of the Sun...," Richard's 2012 CD, continues the good-time feel of his debut with originals like "Ten Little Fingers," "New Boo Boo" and "Magic Shoes," along with the stomping "Brain Freeze" and "Barefootin'." Featuring vocals turns by daughters Sophie ("Fais Do Do") and Michele ("Crash"), this 16-song set also pays homage to one of Richard's favorite bands, 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees The Small Faces. Richard's cover of the group's "Up The Wooden Hills To Bedforshire," features Ian McLagan of The Small Faces/Faces on keyboards. The band's late bass player Ronnie Lane is remembered with a plaintive cover of his song "The Poacher." Although it may not be a tune one expects on a children's record, "It's a beautiful tune," Richard notes, "I think kids will get it."
"I like to think that I'm following in the tradition of people like Tom Glazer, Pete Seeger, Raffi, Ella Jenkins, Bev Boss, and Hap Palmer in sharing my love for music and musical games with kids," he says. "I always keep in mind: they're always learning - and birthday cake trumps everything else!"