By Patte Purcell
What do Cab Calloway, Herb Jeffries, Trini Lopez, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Boney James, Kirk Whalum, Norman Brown, Bobby Caldwell, Al Jarreau, George Benson, Natalie Cole, Michael Bolton, Stevie Nicks, Earth Wind and Fire, Stevie Wonder, The Temptations, Michael Paulo, Peebo Bryson and James Ingram all have in common? They’ve all toured or worked with Land Richards as their drummer. Let me introduce you to the most amazing drummer I have ever heard and had the pleasure to work with, Land is a true enigma.
I met Land when Craig Chesnut had to sub out his spot in the Celebrity Jam due to a conflict. He told me that he was sending his mentor and teacher little did I know the resume that came with him. From his first drum stroke, so powerful it grabbed everyone’s attention, I knew we were in for something special. His very presence commands attention. He was dressed to the nines in a suit and vest. With his boyish good looks he stole the show many times. He truly is the finest drummer I’ve ever had the pleasure of seeing. In addition he’s an accomplished recording artist. He also composes and arranges music.
We had a great interview where we covered his beginnings in Muscle Shoals, Alabama. His dad a high school band teacher had his own band back in the 60’s playing instrumental music. His mother suggested he add a vocalist. The boy she recommended who worked with her at the hospital was Percy Sledge. He was added and when they decided to record a record for the area they wrote, “When a Man Loves a Woman,” which became a huge hit. It was later recorded by Michael Bolton. In an ironic twist, Land played with him for nine years.
In essence, Land had his first gigs sitting in with his dad’s band at age 7. By age 10 he was doing 4 hour gigs and at 12 he was working 4 nights a week. He was primarily self-taught although he had the luxury of having his dad to teach him as well. He enjoyed talking about how lucky he was to have music for a job. The money was great, it was like he went to a party every time and then there are the girls. He had a great time. (Sorry ladies, he’s happily married).
He went from Alabama to Texas to New York and back to Texas again before deciding to come to California primarily for the weather. He didn’t know a soul. So how did he get to where he is? He credits jams. He got his contacts there. He started getting booked. His business sense, promptness and personality made him into a hot commodity along with his incredible talent.
His career spans the globe. He spends about 6 months a year in Japan touring with the top artists there. His first gig there for mega star Namie Amuro was with Andrew Ford, Michael Thompson and Randy Waldman on keys, Michael Paulo and Sheila E on percussion. It turned from a 3 week gig to one that lasted for 6 months. Most recently he tours with ‘Exile’. These are huge production shows in stadiums that hold 80,000 people and take 3 days to set up. They sell out every time.
He’s been performing on cruises for a long time too. When Land first came to California he worked for Carnivale Cruise lines playing in the lounge in order to save up money so he could attend jams and gain exposure and contacts. He still loves jams (as do I) and we spoke about what he considered to be the best jams. He mentioned the Baked Potato, Josephina’s, The Flying Jib, The Mint, Mr. Jays and Fat Tuesdays all held what he calls spontaneous jams. He spoke of times when George Benson would walk in and join. He said the hardest part was being allowed to sit in. In another funny ‘btw’ he said most of the covers he plays at jams are songs he’s played with the original artists at one time or another.
When we talked about goals he said he’s doing everything he’s wants to do. He revealed that he is actually a secular minister for the Lord and takes the opportunity through his music to reach out and tell people all over the world what its’ really about. He says he’s a secular minister and he wears a tiny silver cross as an earring.
He and his sax friend Ron Brown who speaks fluent Japanese have brought many people in to listen to their music and told them about his bigger picture.
Land is a humble and delightful soul who obviously loves his music and mission with a passion. It shows in everything he does. It’s an honor to work with him. For more information or to contact him visit his Facebook page. To see him in action visit his YouTube channel, Land Richards.
Patte Purcell – Muze Muzic