Jack Richardson memorial
No other Canadian record producer achieved more fame within the industry than Jack Richardson. Considered the Grandfather of the Canadian music industry, he was born in Toronto in 1929, and played in various bands while attending school. By 1949 was playing professionally in The Westernaires, who landed a regular local radio program on the CBC.
In the ’50s he was a regular on The Billy O’Connor Show, a Saturday night variety program on the CBC. He was working as an account executive for a Toronto firm that produced television programs, when he and three others from the company decided to form their own production company, Nimbus 9. Initially they produced video and audio recordings, but within a short time focused solely on audio recordings.
One of the clients he worked with at McCann-Erickson Advertising Agency was Coca Cola, and in 1968, he approached them with an idea of promoting Canadian musical talent through the beverage. The concept involved using Canadian talent, including Bobby Curtola, David Clayton Thomas, The Collectors, Robbie Lane, Jack London, and of course, The Guess Who, in Coke commercials.
He then approached Coke’s brass with the idea to produce and market an album through a bottle cap reimbursement scheme. On one side of A WILD PAIR was The Guess Who, the other was The Staccattos (later The Five Man Electrical Band). The record wasn’t distributed through the regular channels, so certification wasn’t available, but sold enough copies that it could’ve been deemed ‘gold,’ 50,000 units.
Richardson mortgaged his house and produced The Guess Who‘s breakout album, WHEATFIELD SOUL, launching their career into rock’s stratosphere. Of the 14 albums of theirs he produced, 11 went gold and five went platinum in Canada, with five gold and three platinum records in the US.
In 1972 he designed and built Nimbus 9’s Soundstage Recording Studio, and did the same two years later for the J.A.M.F. disc mastering facility. In 1974/75 Richardson introduced Direct-to-disc audiophile recordings when Nimbus 9 launched the world famous Umbrella Records label.
Although he also produced Alice Cooper, Bob Seger, Badfinger, Moxy, Max Webster, Rough Trade, Christopher Ward, The Association, and Poco (among many others), his flexibility was admired by other producers, having also worked with The Boss Brass, The Brecker Brothers, Poppa John Creach, The Irish Rovers (as well as their TV show “Party With The Rovers” from 1984 – 1986), The Toronto Chamber Orchestra, Hagood Hardy, and the Canadian Brass, among others. In all, 27 singles he produced spent time on Billboard’s Top 40 list, and received 38 gold and platinum awards for his work.
In the mid ’80s, he took on the role of professor at Fanshawe College in London, Ont, and chaired its Music Industry Arts Project. He then taught at the Harris Institute for the Arts in Toronto in the Producing and Engineering Program, a position he held until 2007.
In 2002, The Junos and CARAS (Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences) recognized his achievements in the industry by renaming the Producer of the Year Award in his honour. A year later, he was awarded the Order of Canada. He also served time as president of CIRPA (Canadian Independent Record Producers Association) and was inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, received SOCAN’s Special Achievement Award, and was a driving force behind the formation of FACTOR, which helps Canadian indie artists find funding for their projects.
On May 13, 2011, Richardson passed away at the age of 81 in his home in Toronto. His son Garth is also a music producer, having worked with Rage Against the Machine, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and System of a Down.