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As a youngster growing up on a farm in the central north island of New Zealand, music was always part of Ritchie’s household. His Mother with family, relatives and friends played saloon-style piano, and traditional instruments like the piano accordion, for popular songs of their generation. Regular dances in local Country Halls and other social occasions added to Ritchie’s musical exposure at the time. Richie’s sister took formal piano lessons, so he was able to utilise basic instruction books for the piano, which were readily available with an upright piano.
Wandering through and exploring the pages of musical notation, Ritchie soon learnt to read and play the piano notes easily with his right hand – (treble cleft) but was somewhat lazy with the bass/left hand – a co-ordination skill which still haunts him to this day. But the piano was not going to be his main instrument – it would be the acoustic guitar!
Around the time Ritchie was nine years old, whilst searching in his elder brother’s wardrobe, he discovered a Ukulele, long since abandoned from earlier days. The traditional island stringed instrument was easy to play – an instruction book enabled Ritchie to learn the basic chords and strum along to the popular hits abundant on the radio in those times of the ‘60’s!
The following Christmas, Ritchie had an acoustic guitar to enhance his musical aspirations.
Some formal tuition of Country and Western Styles was provided during this time, from Ritchie’s elder brothers’ colleague called Allen Pepperell. Musical shows at school found Ritchie playing music with his like-minded friends, and giving the occasional recitals in the local Maihiihi Country Hall, near his home town, Otorohanga.
So at an early age, the basic piano and guitar instruction books enabled him to assimilate the notes on a guitar and where they lay on the piano keyboard. Sheet music, available at the time, enabled Ritchie to readily learn the POP hits of the time from such groups as The Seekers, Herman Hermits, Elton John and of course The Beatles.
But further formal direction or mentoring, which Ritchie sought, had to wait until High School, where he joined the College orchestra. Quickly learning the violin and viola his music tutor, Mr. Gorringe, was quite motivated for Ritchie to attend a provincial orchestra to advance his musical studies. Unfortunately the logistics of travel and distance curtailed any further involvement in this Classical musical direction. Ritchie believes had he continued with the violin, his life may well have been in the realms of Classical music rather than the contemporary POP genre. The trombone added to the variety of instruments he learnt during this time; Ritchie was keen to explore any musical instrument.
Leaving college Ritchie’s time in the air-force provided little time for serious music advancement apart from, periodically, guitar and violin.
However, from 1981 to 1982 he was involved in a local band in Palmerston North. Initially playing rhythm guitar he was asked, and soon provided, the bass when the bass guitar player suddenly left the group. The former Country and Western tuition paid off, enabling him to rapidly teach himself bass techniques for general pop material, Rock and Roll, and the New Wave style which was abundant during this period.
The Band, called “Bland Portrait” had much success in playing a wide variety of material for functions, pubs and club scenes. Each of the four band members came from a different influential background, so could contribute material from their own individual styles. Some original material from other band members was included in the music lists. Unfortunately, none of this original material was ever recorded.
Over the years Ritchie has played in various duets/bands in locations where his aviation work took him; he found the synergy produced from playing in groups intriguing and awe inspiring. Ritchie enjoyed playing in places such as Folk and Country clubs when the opportunities arose; his target audience being mainly around his own generation; but some of his material has found to be uplifting to younger age groups.
Ritchie keeps a balanced lifestyle structure with his professional work and music as he develops and releases his original material.
Ritchie’s inspiration is gained from the people and places he’s experienced over the years from his worldwide travels; his music reflecting a natural release of common human emotional experiences – he enjoys playing at any opportunity.
Asked to quote his favourite song (one of his own of course!) but he’ll also mention “WORDS” by the Bee Gees!