Jack Richardson, an influential Canadian producer best-known for helming the Guess Who's biggest hits, has died. He was 81.
Guess Who front man Burton Cummings posted the sad news on his website blog.
"He was a great friend ... bright, talented and funny. He taught me infinite amounts about producing and arranging," Cummings wrote.
Richardson saw the music business from a variety of perspectives — as a musician, producer, advertising executive, record-company exec and college instructor.
Born in Toronto on July 23, 1929, Richardson got his first taste of the music business playing double-bass in local orchestras in the 1940s.
In 1960, he joined the McCann Erickson advertising agency as the account supervisor for the radio and television side of the Coca-Cola Ltd. account.
There, he helped launch a youth-oriented radio campaign for Coke that featured the music of Bobby Curtola, David Clayton-Thomas, the Collectors (later to become Chilliwack) and the Guess Who.
' I will never, ever forget how you changed my life.' —Burton Cummings
In 1968, he co-founded Nimbus 9 Productions with three partners he had worked with in advertising, and drew from his experience there to sign his first act: the Guess Who.
At the time, the Winnipeg rockers seemed on the brink of collapse — they had just embarked on an ill-advised promotional trip to the U.K. that left them in serious debt.
Richardson recorded a split album between the Guess Who and an Ottawa band called the Staccatos, later renamed the Five Man Electrical Band.
The record, A Wild Pair, was only available through mail order. The cost? Ten Coca-Cola bottle caps and $1.
Soon after, Richardson took the band to New York and recorded their album Wheatfield Soul in five days. Richardson has said that he had to take out a second mortgage on his house to pay for production costs.
The record included These Eyes, a top 10 single for the band in Canada and the United States.
Richardson continued producing each of the band's records as the Guess Who took off commercially, earning No. 1 hits with American Woman, No Sugar Tonight, No Time and Laughing.
"Jack I'll miss your being in this world," Cummings wrote in his blog. "And I will never, ever forget how you changed my life forever and for better — so long great friend."
Collaborated with Alice Cooper, Badfinger
Richardson's successes were, by no means, limited to his collaborations with the Guess Who.
He also produced Alice Cooper's 1971 breakout Love it to Death, Bob Seger's 1976 single Night Moves (a top 5 hit in Canada and the U.S.), and Badfinger's last album of new material, 1981's Say No More.
He also produced for Moxy, Poco and Rough Trade.
In total, he produced 14 albums for the Guess Who, five of which were certified platinum in Canada, with three reaching that mark in the U.S. He has received 38 gold and platinum awards for his production work
In 1985, he became a professor at Fanshawe College in London, Ont., where he taught courses in audio production. He taught there until his retirement in 2007.
He won the Junos' Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award in 1986, and the Juno Awards category for producer of the year was renamed the Jack Richardson Producer of the Year award in 2002. He also lends his name to the annual Jack Richardson Music Awards, which are given to local artists in London, where Richardson lived for some time.
Richardson is also a member of the Canadian Music Hall of Fame and was presented with SOCAN's special achievement award in 1988. He was made a member of the Order of Canada in 2003.
And Richardson's son, Garth, one of four children, is a noted music engineer who has collaborated with Rage Against the Machine, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Nickelback.