Saturday, August 26, 2017

The Lost Recordings of Music Legend Gregory Richards

In an alternate universe, I became a music legend.

But not in this one.

All I wanted from the time I started playing guitar and piano at 16 years old (waaay back in 1985) was to "make it in music". I wrote as many songs as I could. Eventually, I crafted what I thought were pretty great songs, and sent them to record companies. After the rejection letters poured in, and college and job offers trickled in, this reality led me to where I am now...

...but I always wondered what happened to Gregory Richards (that was going to be my stage keep some anonymity between my real life and my Rock Star life).

Then three months ago I found my old 4-track cassette masters, restored them with Logic on my Mac, and decided to release the songs as a glimpse into what could have been...the first songs recorded by music legend Gregory Richards that launched his legendary career. 

Here are the first batch of songs...

The Journey
The text above is what I put on the album liner notes...

...and it's all true.

I had full confidence I would have a career in music...I thought for sure composing, but maybe if I got lucky, performing my own songs. I would spend a little time practicing for my piano lessons, but then spend hours just playing. In fact I still can't read music as well as I'd like because at the time it "slowed me down". Once I took up guitar 6 months later (from an amazing guitarist Reynold Philipsek), couldn't stop playing and composing. In high school I took 2 years of "Electronic Music" class (kind of an honors-independent study class) and that got me hooked on recording.

I bought my gear (4-track, drum machines, keyboards...all of which are collectors items now!) and started off (even having my then-girlfriend, now wife sing some tracks). After a while I joined a christian rock band but at the same time send "demo tapes" off to record companies. I still have some of the rejection letters, and some photos of me gigging (solo with a bunch of that original MIDI gear backing me up as the band) at a few locations in the Minneapolis area.

Turns out I was pretty naive. The topic of most of my songs were about faith and Jesus (not wildly popular) and as a result never even considered entering the mainstream music scene...which would have been essential to connect with those that could possibly make a career possible.

Eventually I accepted my technology path...but even now at 48 not a week goes by where I don't think "What if". In fact, when I was asked by a senior in high school what he should do after he graduated (computers or music), I flat out told him I may not be the best to ask...because I chose computers...the safe, monetarily stable, predictable route...and some days I am filled with so much loss and regret I can barely walk into work.

That said, I have found outlets to play, including our church (yep, still songs about faith and Jesus), and even have composed some songs used in the services. I've found occasions to play around town, and even last week my wife suggested I just start showing up to Open Mic share what songs I have now.

I do have 2 albums on iTunes/Amazon/Spotify, and I've made a whopping $45 from the 5 years of streaming...and recently added more on Band Camp (including soundtracks to live theatre that was super fun to compose). You'll find the whole collection here: 

Anyway, it's been quite a journey to uncover what I recorded. I recovered about 30 songs that, while I've always had copies on cassettes, I never shared them since they sounded bad sonically. The versions I had were 3rd and 4th generation cassette copies that warbled, and really were not pleasing to listen to.

Now that I re-mastered them using, at least to me, the latest technology, I can hear parts I forgot about, I can make the tracks pop out, and I can make the songs sound like they're in stereo! I only had 4 tracks, but I would "ping-pong" the tracks and ended up with a mono music track with 5-15 instruments, then 3 tracks for vocals (or a lead guitar).

What you're hearing is the original mixes (since all music tracks were mono), and a remixed vocal, and then "mastering tools" applied.

I plan to publish more, but these first 10 are the ones I really thought were going to make it big. I have no illusions now, but I still love these songs so now I'll be sharing them every so often...

...if anything to give you a glimpse into an alternate universe where Gregory Richards was a music legend.

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