Richard Harding Passes Away
In the early spring of 1966 I bought my first car (a red '57 MGA), grabbed a guitar and set out on the road I am still on today. I had dreams of hitting the road playing music for a living. I had turned 18 the previous summer and began showing up in the clubs in Greenwich Village in NY playing for drinks or very little money, whichever came first.
My first real road trip took me to Chicago where a guy named Richard Harding had a club called called "Poor Richards." I immediately loved this crazy character. Night after night when my shows were over we'd drink our way from club to club, bar to bar, and stagger home in the wee hours of the next morning, having met and played music with everyone even remotely connected to the world of Chicago folk music. Chicago became a second home. I continued to play for Richard when he moved to Belmont and opened "The Quiet Knight" where I met Steve Goodman and others who would become life long friends. Even after I had outgrown the clubs and was performing in larger venues, I'd come and play for Richard. He was family.
At some point he gave up owning venues and I lost track of him only to discover him again and again throughout the decades that passed. He was known to my family and crew. I'd say "If you see or hear from a guy named Richard Harding, let him go wherever he wants - no comps, no tickets, no back-stage passes needed… He's family." Richard is in our family videos goofing off backstage with us every time we'd get anywhere near Chicago. That's the way it was when I saw him last year at Symphony Hall when I had a gig there. We'd catch up on family news and go off never saying anything other than "I'll see you next time." I'm sure he will be remembered for many reasons by many people. But for me, he was simply my friend and I will miss him very very much.