R.I.P. DAVID RICHARDS
Sadly, today we lost a hugely talented Engineer and Producer,
who did a wonderful job in many of our Queen tracks.
A very sad day.
– – – –
A sad day in Montreux and for Queen people around the world.
Today we lost a very fine rock music producer and a great friend. Very sad to say that David Richards passed away today in Switzerland – after recurrent bouts of illness.
We, as Queen, met David when we first stepped into Mountain Studios in the 1980s – and we instantly ‘clicked’. Dave was one of those people with a magic touch. Softly spoken and always absorbed in his work, David became our producer/ engineer of choice for half a dozen Queen studio albums – which is quick to say, but sums up an enormous volume of work. He had an innate talent for blending sounds – it was as if the studio was an extension of his body, so intimately in control of its workings was Mr Richards.
David saw us through the changes from Analogue to Digital recording – but everything still ended up physically on reels of tape in those days. David was particularly adept at manipulating tape, synching up more than one multitrack at a time so we could effectively work on an unlimited number of parallel instrument tracks in any one song at a time. With us he pioneered the use of ‘slave’ reels which were used to store material which was to be needed later, freeing up the ‘master’. In those days prior to the now all-pervasive hard disc and Protools technology, David used an early programming technique to make rhythmic loops from drums and sometimes bass, which he had an uncanny knack of combining with already recorded backing tracks, giving them a distinctive ‘easy’ feel.
While we were out on our various tours, David worked successfully in Mountain Studios with other artists – notably David Bowie, Chris Rea and Iggy Pop … Always at max quality.
David was our lynch-pin during all those final days when we knew Freddie was near the end. When, months later, we got close to assembling the final versions of all those precious fragments into the tracks which made up the ‘Made in Heaven’ album, most of which we’d worked in Roger’s and my own studios in England, we once again returned to Montreux and David. Together we tied up every loose end, polished and fine-tuned the mixes.
One of my favourite moments with him was the creation of “Track 13” for that album. David and I lit up joss sticks and candles in the control room, powered up every machine in the building, and sat ‘painting pictures’ with synthesisers and samplers against a slowly changing backdrop of drones – for the whole night – something like 8 hours, by the time it had evolved. Roger wafted in, enjoyed the vibe, and played a ‘solo’ half way through, and wafted out. Then somehow we got to a place where it seemed like the music had taken us all the way through some kind of worm-hole and out the other side. In the refreshing emergence we thought we could hear Freddie laughing – still not sure where that particular sample came from, but we left it in … it’s all mixed in with echoes of classical themes – the music seemed to have a life of its own. And – no – we didn’t take any drugs !!!
Well, dear David … We will miss you badly. But I’m happy that we saw you one more time just a few days ago at the opening of the Queen Studio Experience. I’m happy that, in my small speech, I remembered to say that one of the greatest reasons for always coming back to Montreux was David Richards. And I’m happy you said afterwards, “I’m one of the luckiest men on the planet, to have shared all those times with you guys”.
I would add, “And one of the most talented”.
Rest in Peace, David. Our recorded music will carry a testament to your great work forever.