“ANGELS ALL ALONG” longer bio

A casual one night encounter in a diner in rural Indiana, between a twenty-something girl and boy, back in 1952, provided a opportunity for a new creative soul to enter this world. Fortunately, Richard had the good luck of being adopted by two loving, Midwest farm-family raised people, his first “angels,” who, unable to have children themselves, had a special appreciation for their new only child.
Initially living in Peoria IL, Richard discovered his love of music, thanks to a second “angel,” the woman across the street, as he was plunking out random melodies on her piano. Through her encouragement, his parents bought a $25 upright piano from another neighbor, and rolled it down the street to their home, starting his first lessons, and allowing him to access a lifetime passion for music.
Not only did he identify and pursue his passion for the creative arts (music and theater), but he also had an added physical life through sports and fitness, all nurtured by his parents. There was always an athletic practice or game, and a music or theater rehearsal or performance most days through school, which taught him time management, self discipline and filled his daily life with joy. He was a source of affordable entertainment for his parents’ friends and family, being summoned into the living room to either sit at the piano, or stand and sing, waiting for the command “hit it” from his dad. At first, he was a somewhat reluctant performer, but soon transitioned into an eager young musician who was excited to sing and play any piano he found. No problem!
Musically, he studied piano, voice, and even string bass, from kindergarten through college, always being a member of some performance ensemble, ranging from dance bands to youth symphonies.
After attending Wheaton College and earning a degree in Psychology, with the intention of being a high school teacher and coach, he encountered his next “angel,” a college friend who recognized his talent and frustrated dreams. His generous friend helped him acquire a private scholarship so that he could attend the music program at the University of Miami, FL. Finally he was studying music officially, as well as participating as an actor in the musical theater program at the Jerry Herman Ring Theater.
While auditioning at a local restaurant in Miami as a piano player, he met his next “angel,” pop artist, Barry Manilow, who happened to be in the place at the time. From that introduction, Barry asked Richard if he wanted to do his required internship for U. of M with him in Los Angeles. Tough decision! He moved to LA, and worked with Barry as a musician (earning his first album credit for orchestration) as well as what was described by People Magazine as Barry’s bodyguard/chauffeur. Welcome to Hollywood! In addition to working in production for Barry’s album “Even Now,” and on Dionne Warwick’s comeback album, he also got television musical special experience with Barry Manilow specials, as a rehearsal pianist and on-camera performer.
After studying composing/arranging at Dick Grove School of Music, he then worked on a series of other television musical specials, working with the likes of Bea Arthur, Rich Little, John Davidson, Betty White, and meeting his next “angel,” entertainer Suzanne Somers. He became her musical director, performing in Las Vegas, Tahoe, Atlantic City, and touring all over the country, including the Kennedy Center where Suzanne opened for Bob Hope. He was also able to perform in London, and on a USO tour in Germany. He appeared with Suzanne on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as well as the Mike Douglas Show where he sang a duet with Suzanne with a song he wrote. She was kind enough to use a few other of his original songs in her act.
In a progressive journey to get more specific about how he wanted to focus his talents and energy, he studied songwriting and acting, and was able to land several national commercials as an actor, as well a getting a publishing deal as a songwriter. He had songs recorded by Lou Rawls, Terry Steele (a Top 10 Billboard R&B Single) Mona Lisa featuring Barry White, Rodney Mansfield, Diane Schuur, and three songs with Phil Perry. He also performed with his own band at Los Angeles clubs like At My Place, The Gardenia, and Catalina Bar and Grill.
The next frontier he ventured into was the world of musical theater, thanks to the next “angel,” named Margaret Hoorneman, a friend’s grandmother, who had an idea for a musical based on the Dickens’ book “Great Expectations.” Along with his pop co-writer Steve Lane, they wrote the score for the musical, which had readings featuring the talents of High Panaro, Cloris Leachman and Faith Prince. The show was finally produced to rave reviews in Los Angeles in 2008, and picked up by the Tony Award winning Utah Shakespearean Festival for their 2010 season.
Having worked in the studio for years with other artists, he knew his time had come to step up and record his first CD. The result is the new release “Soul Expressing,” which is keeping with his vision of how he sees himself. He looks forward to the path ahead, which includes a return to performing and recording additional CD’s, having no lack of material and enthusiasm.
At 63, he continues to be fueled by his passions for creativity, health and fitness, and spiritual growth, nurtured by his friends and family, and especially blessed by his most special “angel,” his son Nathan, who has allowed Richard to also be a “Soul Expanding.”