A well-respected studio musician long based in Los Angeles, Emil Richards has been on a countless number of sessions, contributing his vibes mostly anonymously to recordings in all genres of music. He started playing xylophone when he was six and, while still in tenth grade, Richards played with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. After graduating from the Hartt School of Music and Hilliard College (1949-52), he played in an Army band in Japan (working with Toshiko Akiyoshi). Richards later worked with Charles Mingus, Willie Ruff, Ed Shaughnessy, Ed Thigpen, George Shearing’s Quintet (1956-58), Paul Horn (1960-64), Jimmy Witherspoon, Shorty Rogers and many others. In the early-to-mid 1960’s, Richards co-led the Hindustani Jazz Sextet with Don Ellis, mixing together Indian music with jazz. He was also a member of Stan Kenton’s Neophonic Orchestra, the Roger Kellaway Cello Quartet and toured with both Frank Sinatra and Frank Zappa in the 1970’s. Emil Richards, who recorded as a leader for Impulse (1965-66) and Interworld (two CDs in 1994-95), owns over 350 percussion instruments and has long been interested in ethnic folk music although he considers his main influence to be Lionel Hampton.
Have you ever wondered who played the bells on Scarborough Fair? Or the snaps on the Addams Family TV show, the bongos on the original Mission Impossible TV show, or the xylophone on the Simpons theme song? Well, Emil Richards, who has close to 2000 films and TV shows to his credit and the world’s largest collection of percussion instruments (over 770 to date), played all those sounds.
Emil has also written instruction books for mallet and percussion instruments and has a list of clinics he teaches at universities and music schools throughout the world.