When Richie Z had these photo's taken his fingers were movin' so fast his guitar almost
"Sploded in Flames!"
So it began
Richie Z first found a Goldblatt's Silvertone acoustic guitar under the Christmas tree in 1967. He was tired of playing air guitar to Beatles music so he asked Santa for a real one! He banged on it for a few months then lost interest. 11 years later he was laid off his job and to keep his sanity, he picked up the Ol' Silvertone once again.
"Des' guy Richie is a pretty Good!"
"Sayeth the Richie"
"I've not put it down since. I thought that if I got good it would impress my friend Dan Alvarez's sister Anita who I had a major crush on. It didn't work. She is now Cook County's State's Attorney. "
"I guess I needed more practice!"
The Beatle's Era
In 1977 Richie started with a Beatles band called the "FAB FOUR" with friends. That lasted until 1983. Their biggest claim to fame was opening for Kevin Cronin from REO Speedwagon at St. Linus. Kevin had came home for a fundraiser.
Richie then moved to Folk Music and became enamored with Bob Dylan. He felt Dylan's music was accessible and brilliantly written and began to memorize the many verses of the great Dylan songs. It was then that Richie started hanging around the Old Town School of Folk on Armitage. He met many friends and played with many great musicians such as Liz Carrol, Mike Miles, and school president at the time Jim Hirsch. Jim has gone on to head the Chicago Center for the Performing Arts but his heart still lied with his days at the school. Richie taught Guitar for a few semesters before moving on.
"I also had a steady gig with Orphan's on Lincoln Avenue for years. It was in these years from 1984- 1990 that I wrote most of my songs."
O Richie Z, The Pipes, The Pipes Are Calling!
In 1985 Richie traveled to Ireland with a youth group and met an Irish Band called "SASKEEN". In Richie's own words:
"They let me play in between their breaks and we had a lot of fun together. It was then that I fell in love with Irish Contemporary Folk and Rebel songs. When I returned to Ireland by myself 2 years later, I wanted to visit the graves of the men who died on hunger strike like Patsy O'hara in Derry. All my friends were from the North of Ireland so I brought their pain and injustice home and sang the songs of Christy Moore, the Wolftones, and the Furey Brothers with great emotion and passion. Even the Irish American community could not feel the desperation of life in Derry and Belfast and those places like the sight of Bloody Sunday in the Catholic ghettos in Craigon and the Bogside. Places where the British soldiers feared to trod were places I was welcomed. Although the war has ended and I haven't seen my Irish friends for years, their songs and music will be forever be sung with conviction and passion in my heart for my love of the North and my friends in Ireland. That is how a person with a Polish last name can sing many Irish songs!"
You're IRISH in the Blood Somewhere Lad!
When he returned home, Richie felt the need to find an Irish pub that had the feel of those small pubs in Ireland with great music. He found that the 6511 Club on Kedzie was the place he was looking for. Richie immediately made friends with the legendary Kevin Henry and his daughter Maggie. Maggie played whistle, fiddle and flute and they became quite a dynamic duo easily crossing between Irish Traditional, Folk and Rock music. Maggie and Richie played about 10 years together until about 2001 when she needed to retire for health reasons.
The Z Man Gets Hitched!
Richie & Gabrielle got married in 1990! The Z decided to stay close to home and change his focus. He joined the Our Lady of the Ridge Folk Group in 1991 under Julie Kane. Outside of a 3 year leave of absence he has played there for the last 18 years!
He has played for and met Cardinal's Bernadine and George and has been a musical part of countless weddings and funerals. To this day he continues to play every 11:30AM Mass under current music director John Black.
Richie Z, Song Writer Extraordinaire!
As a writer, Richie currently has 2 songs under federal copyright as they are out in the public. "My Old Neighborhood" is one that he wrote about the Back Of The Yards neighborhood in Chicago where he grew up. The other is called "I Found The Love" which is a spiritual song written in 1983 for a youth group. That song was co-opted by an Irish Catholic Youth Group called "Search For Christian Maturity". It became their theme song and they re-named it The Search Song. The group spread throughout much of Ireland and is sung at all their meetings and Masses.
A friend of Richie's traveled back to Ireland recently for the 20 year Search Group Anniversary. The Bishop of Sligo was presiding and to his friend's surprise Richie's Search Song was played for Communion meditation. Pretty cool huh!
"We did all kinds of Rock, Country and Folk until 2007 when Bob remarried and quit the group. I maintained all our gigs like the Koppermill in Orland where I played to the Spring of 2009 when they decided to go with bands. I returned to Chicago Ridge where I now play at the Grove Sport Bar, Jesse's Pub, Desmond's pub and The Carriag pub in Oak Forest."
"In His Own Words!"
"I was born in August 1958 Chicago in Englewood Hospital and lived my childhood on 51st and May in the Back of the Yards. At 19 my parents moved to Oxford Avenue in Chicago Ridge where my 87 year old Mom still lives. (God Bless you Ma!) I have 2 older brothers. One in Connecticut the other right in "Da Ridge". That would make me 51! My wife Gabrielle and I were married in 1990 and have 4 beautiful kids we're proud of. David 16 and Andrew 15 goes to Saint Laurence High School. Rebecca 11 and Tony 7 go to Our Lady of the Ridge. I've been a letter carrier in Oakbrook for the past 23 years. My musical influences are Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan and the Beatles. I also love John Prine and Steve Goodman.
When Richie Z first meet ELVIS impersonator Ryan Pelton he was overheard saying:
"Dude, Ya gots pink lips and that jacket gots ta skadadle!!"
Important Message to Rico!!!
I also have Tourette's syndrome so I scream profanities every 30 seconds when I get nervous at a GIG! I hope that won't be a problem for you! It's kind of rough in church but pretty "Friggin'" entertaining! Oops,There I go again. That all for now . Just kidding about the Tourette's Rico!
Boy, Richie Z, I wish I could play like you!!