Black Music Matters Festival

The Band's Richard Bell dies

Monday, June 18, 2007 – Keyboardist and songwriter Richard Bell, 61, who played with The Band and Janis Joplin, died June 15 after a long battle with multiple myeloma cancer, in Toronto, Canada.

Bell began his professional career in the '60s as a member of the Toronto band the Last Words. He joined rockabilly artist, Ronnie Hawkins and the Hawks as a keyboardist in the mid-1960s. At a performance with Hawkins at the Fillmore East in New York City in 1969, he was approached by Albert Grossman, Janis Joplin's manager, and was recruited for her Full Tilt Boogie Band. He played on her final studio album, "Pearl," released posthumously in 1971.

Bell joined The Band in 1991 and played piano on their albums, "High on the Hog," "Jubilation" and "Jericho" for which he penned "Caves of Jericho." During his career, he played on more than 400 albums and performed with Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Joe Walsh, Paul Butterfield, The Cowboy Junkies, Bruce Cockburn, and Bonnie Raitt.

At the time of his death, Bell was a member of the country-rock group, Burrito Deluxe, performing and contributing songs to their recent CD, "Disciples Of The Truth."

Band leader Carlton Moody stated, "During the brief time I knew Richard, I found him to be a very spiritual person who lived everyday to the fullest. Musically, he always inspired those around him to achieve a higher level. Once he entered your life, you were better because of it."

CD reviews for Burrito Deluxe

Georgia Peach
The look on "Sneaky" Pete Kleinow's face among the liner notes about sums up this "tribute" to the Flying Burrito Brothers: half-suspicious, half-morose and completely indifferent. Kleinow, of course, was the original steel guitarist for short-lived but extremely influential Burritos, which counts Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman as its founding members. No matter here, however, but this muddled tribute of sorts neither adds anything to the legend of the Burritos or provides any musical insight »»»