Just before the New Year I received an e-mail from Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater. In the e-mail, Jordan spoke of his friend and fellow musician Richard Lainhart who had recently passed away. Richard was a good friend, peer, and influence of Jordan’s and he humbly requested that any of his press friends share with their readers a little bit about Richard. Well, I had no idea who Richard was so I did some research and while doing so, I realized something. There are so many great musicians and artists out there that never get the commercial success or recognition that others get making them somewhat of an obscurity. I thought it was cool that Jordan was pointing this guy out with the hopes of just bringing about some more awareness of his work. I do the same thing all the time when I tell my friends about my favorite bands and musicians so I figured that I should give this guy a listen. Being that I’m a fan of Jordan’s work, I decided to do some looking into Richard Lainhart.
Richard Lainhart was composing electronic music long before terms like electronica, ambient, and trance were being used. Over the years, Lainhart expanded on his creative plane through the use of custom hardware and software technologies to create this kind of surreal and somewhat meditative kind of music. Richard progressed with the changing times embracing technology. As the technology grew, so did Lainhart as not just a composer, but as a performer combining visual media and his sometimes improvised music. It was really easy to see just why Jordan Rudess held this guy in such high regard. I asked Jordan about the impact that Richard had on his life as a person and a musician. He had this to say:
“If it was not for Richard Lainhart I would have never been introduced to the Continuum– I would never have played the huge modular synthesizer that he designed for me with Roger Arrick and I would have never played the Lap Steel. Richard was a giving man and was one of the smartest people I’ve ever known. We shared a passion for sound and enjoyed wonderful electronic music improvisations which we brought to live radio, the concert hall, and live streaming around the world. We made the the live concert DVD “A Fistful of Patchcords” together, and together with Richard we created videos highlighting instruments and technology.”
In all honesty, I’m not a fan of electronic music. I find it to be chaotic, noisy, and it makes me think of kids in bad clothes and glow sticks. Richard Lainhart’s music wasn’t the electronic music that I was expecting to hear. I decided to pick up his album Ten Thousand Shades of Blue and as I listened to “Two Mirrors Face One Another”, it suddenly hit me that this wasn’t just an album, it was a blissful experience. Lainhart created soundscapes that could take the listener on a subtle journey of the mind, a meditation of sorts. I found myself absorbing into the music and hearing all the subtle intricacies of tone and sound and it was one of the most amazing things I have ever experienced. I could feel my body resting, my mind opening and I just allowed myself to be swept away. This is some powerful stuff people.
Unfortunately, like with many great artists, we only hear of them after they pass away. Richard Lainhart passed away on December 30, 2011 at the age of 58. Lainhart left behind a legacy of music that I would have never been aware of had it not been for Jordan Rudess’ e-mail. This situation reminded me just how large of a world we live in. It is nearly impossible to hear and to know of all of the great, gifted, and talented musicians that are out there. Do you know of an artist and/or band that isn’t well known? If so, tell the world about them. Share your treasures and allow them to become the treasures of others. That’s what Jordan did for me. He shared a treasure that just may have gone unearthed in my world. Even though Richard Lainhart is no longer with us, his music is still here for any and everyone to enjoy. Better late than never.