Sadly, we lost Dal on December 31, 2015. He will be remembered for his love of life and for the joy he brought to so many through his music. The following is a reprint of our May 2011 interview with him.
At age 93, Vancouver’s legendary bandleader, Dal Richards, isn’t about to slow down. He still does over a hundred shows a year, including a 17-day stint at the PNE (this year marks his 72nd consecutive year there), and hosts a weekly radio show, ‘Dal’s Place’, Sunday nights on AM 650. Dal works out regularly, too: a habit he got into training as an Olympic torchbearer in 2010. Dal was the oldest person in the torch relay, but he didn’t want to walk. Dal jogged.
Dal credits his passion for his work as the big reason why he keeps on going. “I’m blessed to be doing what I love. Each day I come to my desk in my office is exciting. My horn is always in its stand in the next room, and I practice it every day.”
You’d think he wouldn’t have time to watch much television, but when he does, Dal says he and his wife Muriel always find something unique and interesting on Knowledge Network. He enjoys the eclectic mix of music programming, such as concerts and documentaries about musicians.
“I think there’s a vast audience for this, and it’s not being catered to on the commercial networks. You can tell that a lot of consideration goes into Knowledge’s programming choices, and it’s not just for the ratings. It’s to bring these programs to people who otherwise wouldn’t be able to see them.”
Dal is known for his contributions to the community. Along with playing at numerous charity events, he likes to mentor young talent – sharing his years of experience in the music business, as well as the exposure that comes with being part of his band.
Among the talented youngsters Dal has discovered are Canada’s leading jazz pianist Michael Kaeshammer, the inimitable Michael Buble, talented trumpeter-singer Bria Skonberg, and his most recent find, Caroline Márkos, a UBC Opera student turned big band singer who performs regularly with the Dal Richards Orchestra.
Dal’s been a Knowledge Partner for years, and says that when he realized donations financially support its excellent programming, he was only too willing to contribute.