Best known to Queen fans as the producer of their last four albums, David Richards’ career was varied and distinguished. Born into a musical family in London in 1956, his father Bobby Richards worked as an orchestrator and arranger on various movie and stage productions, most notably with John Barry. David began piano lessons aged three, and by five he had already won a prize playing to an audience of over three hundred. He also became a championship-winning ice-skater and, whilst preparing the soundtracks for his skating routines, discovered a talent for editing music on audio-tape with a razor-blade and sticky-tape.
As a boy of eight, David witnessed his father working on a movie soundtrack in a big London studio and later recalled: “There was a huge sound, all these knobs and guys with smart clothes, very cool, behind the console. I realised that this was what I wanted to do”. David secured his first job in 1973 at Chappell Studios in London where he worked as assistant to chief engineer John Timperley recording many of the greats including Bing Crosby. He said of the time: “I learned to respect the musicians and to never interrupt them while they were searching for an idea”.
In 1975 John Timperley relocated to Montreux, Switzerland, as chief engineer of the brand-new state-of-the-art Mountain Studios within the recently re-built casino building, and asked David to accompany him. Within two years John had moved on to other things and David became chief engineer at the age of 21.
By this time David had married Collette McCready and had two children together.
During his time working at Mountain Studios, David encountered a huge range of artists plus hundreds more coming through the Montreux Jazz Festival. All this music, recording and mixing provided an enormous wealth of experience and, with his natural musical talent and his calm, discreet and efficient manner, it was unsurprising he was soon in demand as a record producer racking up countless gold and platinum discs and production credits for Queen, David Bowie, Chris Rea, Iggy Pop and Duran Duran to name a few. He won a Juno award in 1978 for Best Jazz Recording and at one point in 1994 David was Billboard Magazine’s Producer Of The Month with three Number One records.
David eventually bought the studio from Queen in 1993 and continued to work there until 2002 when he relocated Mountain Studios to the village of Attalens, not far from Montreux. Needless to say, his production work took him all over the world for months at a time but he always returned to his home near Montreux and Mountain Studios.
After his first marriage ended David had a longstanding relationship with the cellist Nathalie Manser, producing a number of CDs together. Latterly he was married to Vivian Wong.
David Richards passed away on the morning of Friday 20th December 2013 after a long illness. He will be remembered by many as a good friend. He was funny and generous and great company, a talented and capable man who had an instinctive “magic touch” in the recording studio. His creative productions will be enjoyed for years to come. He is survived by his daughter Wendy and son Christopher.