Richard James Burgess’s career spans work as a musician, record producer, singer, songwriter, author, manager and head of a trade association. Born in London, he emigrated to New Zealand with his parents and played drums professionally as a teenager. After studying and playing music in Sydney, Australia, he returned to NZ to join Quincy Conserve, the house band for HMV Studios in Wellington. After jazz studies at Berklee (Boston), US, he moved to London. While regularly rehearsing and performing John Walters’ challenging instrumental music with the musicians who later became Landscape, Richard developed skills as a session musician, performed drum clinics for Pearl and played and wrote music with Easy Street, making two albums for Polydor.
Working with Dave Simmons, Richard invented the SDSV drum synthesizer. He gained a reputation as a synth pioneer and coined the terms EDM and ‘New Romantic’ for the emerging Blitz scene. Landscape’s From the Tea-Rooms of Mars … is one of the first albums made using a music computer: the Roland MC-8 MicroComposer, painstakingly programmed by Richard and John to drive an SDSV and modular synths. ‘European Man’, Landscape’s first vocal single, has the catalogue number EDM 1 and a description of ‘Electronic Dance Music’ on the cover, the first use of the term. Along with John, Richard is credited with recording the first digital samples on a commercial album: Kate Bush’s Never For Ever (1980).
In the 1980s and 90s Richard produced dozens of hit records, many of which achieved gold, platinum, or multi-platinum status. Artists produced include Spandau Ballet, Adam Ant, New Edition, Colonel Abrams (the proto-House ‘Trapped’), Kim Wilde, Five Star, Tony Banks (Genesis), Fish (Marillion), Living in a Box, Errol Brown and Shriekback. He mixed tracks for movies and for artists such as Thomas Dolby, Lou Reed and Yossou N’Dour.
Richard wrote and recorded the 13-part BBC World Service radio series Let There Be Drums and wrote two significant books: The History of Music Production and The Art of Music Production: The Theory and Practice (Oxford University Press). He also contributed chapters to books published by Bloomsbury, Routledge, Ashgate and Blandford. He graduated from the Smithsonian’s Senior Leadership Development Program, and in 2010 earned a PhD in Ethnomusicology from the University of South Wales in Cardiff.
Since 2016, Richard has been president and CEO for the American Association of Independent Music (A2IM), where he was previously chair of the board. Prior to leading A2IM, he was head of business at Smithsonian Folkways Recordings where he produced Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology and The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap. He was awarded an MBE on the Queen’s 2022 New Year’s honours list for services to music.
Read ‘INFLUENCES – RICHARD JAMES BURGESS’
CHRIS HEATON BIOGRAPHY
ANDY PASK BIOGRAPHY
PETER THOMS BIOGRAPHY
JOHN L. WALTERS BIOGRAPHY