Richard "Dick" James Richardson was born on September 18, 1928, to Harry and Helen Richardson, in Brookfield, Illinois. Dick attended Brookfield High School and DePaul University in the Chicago, IL area. While still in high school, he enlisted in the Marine Corps; his unit was stationed in China for three years.
Following his military service, Dick returned to Illinois and began working with the Lyons Band Instrument Company in Chicago. In the early 1960s, he was given the opportunity to manage the vibraphone division of the Musser Company. Dick eventually become president of the company and with his keen insight into the music industry, quickly expanded the marimba and vibraphone product line. This greatly improved the company's reputation which attracted high-profile musicians, performers such as Lionel Hampton and Gary Burton, who would eventually began to endorse Musser products. When Musser merged with Ludwig Industries, Dick stayed on as Ludwig vice president. In the 1980s he sold Musser to Ludwig Drums, then owned by Selmer, and went to work for Danny Henkin heading the Slingerland Drum Company, taking the position as president. Dick also served on the PAS Board of Directors when the Percussive Arts Society (PAS) was first formed.
Dick Richardson passed away on December 31, 2010, with his family at his side.
MY MEMORIES by Dave Heim
Dick Richardson hired me in 1976 to work at the Musser plant in La Grange, IL. I was destined for an office position, but I started out on the factory floor (day one: installing casters on M250 Marimbas). After a few months in assembly, I moved on to shipping, and then to the warehouse, and then to the production office. Working in the various departments made me familiar with the parts, the sub-assemblies, and how everything came together.
Many times Dick would walk down the main aisle in the assembly department with our mutual friend, Ed Ward and pull me off my job to join them for lunch. I was happy to join them, but this did result in me getting the stink-eye from some of my co-workers. Hey, the boss asked me to lunch. I can't say 'no', right?
Always quick with a joke, Dick had a great sense of humor. One of my favorite moments happened in the Musser conference room. I had recently purchased a set of LP congas from Bill Crowden's Drums Limited in Chicago (Bill Crowden is married to Brooke Ludwig, who is the daughter of William F. Ludwig II). I planned to use the congas at a rehearsal that evening and it was a cold day, so I brought them into the office with me and stuck them in the conference room restroom to get them out of the way. Bill Jr. was presiding over the meeting and began pacing while he talked. As he paced back and forth he passed in front of the closed washroom door. For some reason - perhaps he was wondering if someone had been in there the whole time - he stopped talking, reached for the door handle, opened the door, and walked in. He emerged with one of my new LP congas and asked: "What's this?". Dick, always the jokester, immediately threw me under the bus and said "Oh, those are Dave's". Bill Jr. looked at me and said "Hey, they're not Ludwig!". Dick jumped in and said "Geez, relax, Bill. He bought them from your son-in law!". Bill Jr. looked at the conga, then at me, and finally said "OK then". He put the drum back in the washroom, closed the door, and continued the meeting.
Dick had me act as the director of fun at Musser. I organized bowling events, softball games, and other Musser outings with the staff of the local music store, the Bandstand. This was a great way to gather with friends and family outside the plant and build some long-lasting friendships.
He took me under his wing while I was at Musser, and it was on Dick's recommendation that I eventually relocated to the Ludwig facility on Damen Avenue, where there were even more opportunities for me. Officially I did computer work for Ludwig, but being a drummer gave me rare opportunities to help out with the Ludwig booth at the NAMM shows (it was still held in Chicago at the time), assist with endorser clinics, and meet many of my drumming idols. I'm thankful for that experience.
Dick Richardson was a true gentleman. He opened doors for me and I'm happy and grateful to have had the opportunity to know him and work with him.