I was born in Artesia, NM on Sept 24, 1947. My dad was a professional musician in the 30s and 40s in TX. He was a drummer in a big band scenario. He quit music when he married my mom, a couple of years before I was born. I started playing music in the 6th grade with the (ugh!) violin……but hadn’t heard of bluegrass at that point. Played music all through school (percussion) and got interested in folk music in 1963 during my sophomore year through my biology teacher. I finally heard bluegrass when I bought the “Foggy Mt. Banjo” LP by Flatt and Scruggs. I knew from that day what I wanted to do……play the banjo.
I went to college for a year in Stillwater, OK and met Gary Price, who showed me the basic rolls and how to play a few Scruggs tunes. As I found out later, he had just shown a guy down in Norman, OK the same things…….fella by the name of Alan Munde. I ended up meeting Alan in 1975 in Denver at a festival and we discovered our humble beginnings. I served in the USAF for 22 yrs and played on Taiwan television while stationed in Thailand. I traveled some with the 13th Air Force band and did a Vegas-type show for the troops. It was during my time in Thailand that I really started to focus more on playing.
Meeting Alan in 1975 really opened my eyes to how much I DIDN’T know! I had also started studying Bill Emerson’s style about that same time. While stationed there in Denver I met and became close friends with Lynn Morris, Charles Sawtelle and Pete Wernick before moving to AZ, where I live now. I was fortunate enough to get to spend some one-on-one time with Alan and he passed on a lot of invaluable information and philosophy.
I moved to Phoenix in 1976 and have been here on and off ever since. I played for 20 yrs with a local band called Traditional Bluegrass. They made one album before I joined the band and we never cut one together. We played many times at the Norco, CA festival and there I met a host of other pickers…….Byron Berline, John Hickman, Dan Crary, Bluegrass Cardinals, Vern Williams, Keith Little, Stuart Duncan, Alison Brown (when they were just kids), Ken Orrick, Jeff Harvey, and the list just goes on and on. I won the Four Corners State Banjo Championship in Wickenburg, AZ two times.
When I finally retired I moved to So Calif and worked for McDonnell Douglas for a number of years, continuing to play music……moving to WY for a 2 yr stint in 1993. When I returned to So Calif in 1995 I played for about a yr with Pacific Crest and got a call from Ken Orrick one day in late summer of 1995. We got together with Jeff Harvey and Marshall Andrews and re-formed Lost Highway, adding Paul Shelasky a year later. Jeff left the band in 1998 and was replaced by Eric Uglum. I moved back to Phoenix in 2002 and got remarried in 2004. I toured and recorded with Lost Highway until Aug 2006.
Bruce Johnson called me when he heard I was leaving Lost Highway and said we should get together and pick some. I thought it over and finally in Apr 2007 I took Mark Miracle with me to a bluegrass campout at a friend’s in Copperopolis, CA. They lived on Sawmill Road and the nucleus of the band was formed that weekend. Bruce left the band in Jan 2009 and Doug Bartlett joined in Feb. In Jun of 2010 Sawmill Road decided to disband and I contacted Copper River and told them I was available full-time. I’ve been with them ever since. I have also been teaching banjo in Phoenix since 2004.
The future? I want to go just as far as I can go as a musician, with a band that is committed to the music and each other…….I will stay until I can no longer physically pick. I will then have done what I was put on this earth to do……..
1995 – “Pacific Crest” – Pacific Crest , Pacific Crest Records
1998 – “November Rain” – Lost Highway, LHR Records
1999 – “Headin’ Down That Lost Highway” – Lost Highway, Hay Holler Records
1999 – “Fiddle Crazy” – Paul Shelasky, LHR Records
2000 – “Lifetime of Sorrow” – Lost Highway, Hay Holler Records
2000 – “Sharon Graeff and Lost Highway” – Sharon Graeff, Heritage Records
2002 – “Pictures and Stories” – Ken Orrick, Hay Holler Records
2003 – “A Bluegrass Gospel Compilation” – Lost Highway, Hay Holler Records
2004 – “Bluegrass the Way You Like It” – Lost Highway, Hay Holler Records
2004 – “Christmas Songs” – Compilation of Hay Holler recording artists, Hay Holler Records
2005 – “Heaven’s Got An Angel” – Lost Highway, Erica Records
2008 – “Lost Highway LIVE!” – Lost Highway, Eric Uglum Records
2008 – “Sawmill Road 1” – Sawmill Road, SMR Records
2009 – “Sawmill Road 2, Fire On the Kettle” – Sawmill Road, SMR Records
2011 – “Trolley Days” – Thomas Porter and Copper River
For more information, please contact Dick at
285total visits,2visits today