Legendary Vancouver Big Band Leader Dal Richards Passes Away; 1918-2015

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Dal Richards, legendary band leader and Vancouver’s King of Swing, has passed away just ahead of what would have been his 98th birthday on January 5th. Richards played 79 consecutive New Year’s Eve gigs and was a part of the PNE for 76 years. He was a radio host, performer, lyricist, and much more to the many who he has touched with his music and spirit for the better part of the last century.

1944: Dal Richards and his orchestra at the Burrard United Service Centre. Archives# CVA 586-3125. Photographer: Donn B.A. Williams.

1950: Dal Richards 10th anniversary at Hotel Vancouver Panorama Roof. VPL# 81255.

1946: Dal Richards and his band playing the Lady Luck Revue at The Orpheum. Archives# CVA 1184-2313.

From the CBC this morning:

“The musician was honoured with the Order of Canada, the Order of B.C. and the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal and was an inductee of the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Over the years, he hosted national radio and television shows, including on CBC, helped launch the careers of talented young musicians and played countless concerts.

After 79 consecutive New Year’s Eve gigs, and nearly as many shows at the Pacific National Exhibition, it’s hard to imagine anyone has kept the music going for longer.

His reign began in 1940, at the brand new Panorama Roof of the Vancouver Hotel. Generations of people have rung in their new year with Dal Richards, who played every New Year’s Eve from 1936 to 2014.”

1960: Dal Richards leading his band in the PNE Parade down Hastings. Archives# 2008-022.137. Photographer: Leslie F. Sheraton.

1976: Dal Richards at the PNE. Archives# 2010-006.283. Photographer: Ernie H. Reksten.

1976: Dal Richards at the PNE. Archives# 2010-006.282. Photographer: Ernie H. Reksten.

Richards also arranged and popularized the BC Lions chant “Roar You Lions Roar”.

In an interview with CBC Music on his 95th birthday, Richards shared his secret.

“Well, if you find something you like doing in life, pursue it with your heart. That is what I’ve done with music. I found that it was my love, so it enveloped my life totally.”

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