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Emil Richards 1932-2019


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From a facebook post by Richard Graham:

"This is a tough one. Emil Richards, perhaps the most recorded percussionist of all time and a friend to all of us, has gone home. Emil Richards born Emilio Joseph Radocchia (September 2, 1932 - December 14, 2019) was an American vibraphonist and percussionist. His expansive career included tours with Frank Sinatra, Frank Zappa, and George Harrison. During a span of over 55 years, Emil has always been a renowned presence in Hollywood soundstages, recording studios, jazz clubs and international touring venues. He amassed a huge collection of world percussion instruments while touring with Sinatra in the early 60's. He visited the White House with his lifelong friends George Harrison and Ravi Shankar on their 1974 tour. Considered a supreme artist on the vibraphone, marimba and xylophone, as well as a master of his world-famous collection of percussion instruments, Emil's creative and precise musicianship is known throughout the world for his versatility. All of the great film composers, including Henry Mancini, Alex North, Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams, collaborated with Emil in finding just the right sounds at his warehouse before composing their famous scores. Salad bowls used in “Planet Of The Apes,” gongs lowered into fluid for space movies and many other unusual sonic effects flash you back to decades of your favorite movies. That's Emil playing bongos on the original Mission Impossible theme!! Emil was a sweet and kind man who thoughtfully answered all my letters when I was just out of  high school, sending me books, suggestions, and great encouragement. May he rest in power!!"

He was a great jazz vibist, too, and his and Don Ellis' albums helped me immensely learning odd time signatures.

RIP and endless thanks for the Inspiration.

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22 hours ago, Quasimado said:

RIP. Would anyone know if that's Emil who plays that very nice vibes solo on Ella's version of "The Christmas Song" from around '60 on Verve LP MGV 4042 "Ella Wishes You a Swinging Christmas" , apparently with the Frank DeVol Orchestra ...

Lord's discography does not list the  members of the orchestra so it might be Emil Richars. He is found on many CAPITOL  G. Shearing & Stan Kenton LPs as well as in the groups of Paul Horn. He played also in the Glen Gray  bands (series "Sound of the great bands") and the orchestra of Shorty Rogers just to name a few of his stations.

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5 hours ago, Quasimado said:

Much appreciated! To make the situation more complex, it seems there were at least two, possibly three takes made of this song before one was used for this LP, including at least one with strings and no vibes at all ... anyway, a fine solo.

LP was recorded   in the summer (June 15/16, 1960). Great for Ella to have the X-mas feelings at such a time








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Both of Emil Richards albums on Uni were released in 1967.  Uni had just been formed by MCA for rock and soul releases that had more 'edge' than its staid Decca label.

Richards' 'New Time Element' was the third album released on Uni and 'New Sound Element - Stones' was the eighth.  I'll briefly describe each:

'New Time Element' is more traditional than its follow-up, venturing out with unusual time signatures on standards, movie themes, and hits of the day.  It has Richards on vibes and all percussion, David MacKay - piano and organ, John Morell - guitar, Chuck Domanico - bass, and Chino Valdes on bongos nd congas. 


'New Sound Element - Stones' goes much further 'outside' into a trippy world of synthesizers and oscillators which produce frequent 'effects' during all 12 compositions by Richards.  Or as Johnny Carson would say, "That's some wild, wild stuff."

As such, it's the more sought-after of the two by current collectors.  Richards on synthesizer and all mallet instruments, Paul Beaver on Moog synthesizer and clavinet, David MacKay - piano, Bill Plummer - bass, Mike Craden - percussion, and Joe Porcaro - drums.       

Beat heads probably also have Richards' 'Journey to Bliss' (1969) and Bill Plummer's 'Cosmic Brotherhood (1968), both on Impulse.  (You can see the progression from these 1967 Uni albums.) 


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