Richard Bird (1957-2020)
Date Posted: 2020-10-08

The George H. Buck Jazz Foundation & Jazzology Records has lost a notable and longtime member of our organization. Richard Bird who was the head engineer at Audiophile Studios from 1995-2015 passed away on Oct 4, 2020. He will be missed but his indelible imprint on the many recording sessions he mixed, produced, and mastered will endure for a long time to come. Richard was an accomplished musician having performed and recorded throughout his career — his influences included Frank Zappa, Todd Rundgren, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Kate Bush, and Gentle Giant among many others. He also had a deep and lifelong love for science fiction, specifically all things Star Trek related. He is survived by his daughter Miranda (who is a thriving artist living in NYC), younger son Samuel as well as his brother Sennit. We extend our deepest condolences to family and friends. There is no information at this time about services and likely any plans for a memorial will have to be postponed till spring of 2021.

photo courtesy of Justine Szymala

When Richard first met George Buck during the late 1980s, he was working as head engineer for Composer’s Recording Studio, located in Mid City New Orleans, LA. Over the ensuing years they cemented a close (almost paternal) relationship. Before Audiophile Studio came into existence at the French Quarter offices of the G.H.B. Jazz Foundation, GHB regularly used local New Orleans studios for booked recording sessions. Though Richard’s engineering history hadn’t seen a lot of Traditional Jazz sessions, he soon discovered that the technical approach required for recording jazz very much fit his overall general philosophies regarding sound engineering and recording, specifically: keep it simple, keep it clean, and let the musicians make the magic.

George eventually asked Richard to come work at his newly inaugurated Audiophile Recording Studio, which was built by Don Hull of Nightshade Studios, but Richard instead opted to oversee a buildout of a brand new 24 track studio on Magazine St to be known as Dinosaur Studios. It produced several notable sessions… John Boutté, Lillian Boutté (produced by Mac Rebennack), boogie-woogie pianist Carl Sonny Leyland, Dash Rip Rock, Irene and the Mike’s, and many more. Still, George Buck remained close and in 1995 after much consideration, Richard left Dinosaur to take over as head engineer and manager of Audiophile, a position he maintained until 2014 when after the passing of George Buck, the studio closed to commercial business. Richard’s production credits are varied and vast, he never sat too long on any particular accomplishment, and was always more concerned about what was next.

* On a personal note — I’ve known Richard Bird for over 30 years, and indeed, my current position working for the GHB foundation is in itself a true testament to his character and our long standing relationship. We first met when I was a very naive 18yr old musician working for a band that was recording at Composer’s Recording Studio / and despite the 10+ year gap in age, our friendship evolved and maintained through every kind of imaginable twist and turn life can provide. He was my big brother, my mentor, my best friend (best man at my wedding) and the cornerstone of so many of my endeavors. He was also my bandmate in Hobson’s Choice for over twenty years. He graciously introduced me to anyone and everyone he knew in local musical circles — and because I was always to be found in his company, many people simply referred to me as ‘Little Bird’… and yet, the patience and generosity he bestowed upon me was not really unique, as it was always in his nature to share and give unto others whatever he had whether it was his personal time, his equipment, or his knowledge. This trait sometimes worked against him but it is what truly endeared him to so many people who knew him… Richard was a genuinely outgoing, loving, and caring person who possessed a gentle soul. In raising my own children, we grew apart and I wasn’t able to see him as often as I would have liked to, but when we spoke last by phone just a week or so prior to his death, he sounded optimistic and focused — we made plans to work on completing some unfinished Hobson’s Choice recordings, but more so, I had the chance to tell him that I truly loved him. Rest In Peace now Richard Bird, and know you will be remembered by the many people you inspired… all of us at the George H. Buck Jazz Foundation, myself very much included. — D Stocker

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