Remembering Richie Hayward by Bill Payne (The Later Years)
Richie Hayward at his final show – photo by Polly Gray
On August 12, 2010 Little Feat’s founding drummer Richie Hayward, who was suffering from liver cancer, passed away from complications of lung disease while awaiting a liver transplant. Little Feat’s Bill Payne has written the following essay on his longtime friend and band member.
A look at Hayward’s later years appears here, with Payne’s memories of the early days over on Jambands.com.
Influences and the Dance
What made Richie’s style unique can be traced to his influences: Mitch Mitchell from Jimi Hendrix’s band; jazz drummer Elvin Jones; The Who’s Keith Moon, to name a few. Each one of these drummers utilized a lot of cymbals, interesting kick drum patterns, snare and tom hits, an orchestral range of intensive ebb and flow motion, enveloping the other instruments in a veritable wash of sound. It was not an exercise in simply keeping the beat. It was about adding colors and filling arrangements with percussive accents.
Richie was certainly capable of hitting the regular 2 & 4 in a rock and roll song, ala “Oh Atlanta,” but left to his own devices he would use his cymbals, jazz strokes on the snare and high hat, and toms to infer those beats. When he was on, he was as good as there was. When he faltered, it gave the audience and band alike the feeling of going off the cliff, and then he would pull it out of the tailspin. Usually. He was completely unconventional in his approach. When it was just Richie and myself playing off one another, the effect was magnified, as I would change tempo or go with him if he did, moving in and out of genres (jazz, New Orleans, rock and roll, cartoon music, avante garde musings) in the course of a improvisation that only the two of us could play. It was our dance, and on more than one occasion a brilliant one. We were both reacting to what each other played at lightning quick speed. (The dance continues with Gabe Ford.)
Richie was involved in two motorcycle accidents, one of which was documented on the back of one of our albums, The Last Record Album. The second one took place a few years later. Richie was back on the bike, having nearly lost his life in the first accident, to see Lowell, who was rehearsing for his solo tour at the Paramount Ranch in Agora Hills. (Later, we finished Down On The Farm with engineer Ray Thompson and assistant Billy Youdleman and the Wally Heider Mobile that was on the premises.) Some kids speeding by in a car yelled something at Richie, who turned to take a look on curvy road and drove the bike into a huge rock crushing his femur and tibia. It was another horrific accident. One of Richie’s legs would be shorter than the other after this.
Richie was in the hospital in traction. I had left the band, essentially, and Lowell had promised the guys that he would put it all back together when he got off the road. It never happened. He died on tour, June 29, 1979. We were in the middle of recording Down On The Farm. It was a very dark time for all of us. Richie was just beginning to see just how dark things could get. The brakes were back on, and back on hard.
That August we put on a benefit concert for Lowell at the Forum in Los Angeles. Richie was unable to join us, as he was still laid up. A dear friend of ours, Rick Schlosser, sat in at rehearsals and for the event. That concert marked a farewell salute to Lowell and what was the beginning of the end for Little Feat. Other than going into the studio in 1980 to record a couple of songs for Hoy Hoy it was pretty much over. A new era was launched. It was every man for himself.
And later on the moon declined to shine its light so benevolently
its grace withheld from our company
(lyrics from “Under The Radar”)
The Wilderness and Back
Richie’s whereabouts was a complete blur to me. I kept up with him on rare occasion. To be honest it was difficult for me to even think about Little Feat. I don’t know if it was that way for anyone else, but the time had come to explore new territory. I heard that Richie was touring with Joan Armatrading and Robert Plant. He lived over in Majorca for a while. I was hiding in my own world with Linda Ronstadt, James Taylor, Jackson Browne, and others. I was proud of having been in Little Feat, but I was battling coming to grips with my feelings over Lowell’s death, my fights with him, and all that comes with being close to your brothers in the band. I just put my head down and tried to find fresh air.
Years later, after the band came back together for another ride, I was impressed by how everyone had really grown in that time of wandering. We had worked with some of the best and brought that knowledge back to feat. Richie was still Richie, of course, just a bit left of center, but somehow more grounded in his playing, more mature. He continued to amaze me as someone that had the mold broken and completely shattered in his style of playing. And while Richie was held in high esteem by most, I’m not sure he was always appreciated for just how truly outstanding he really was. He made it seem easy. It wasn’t, as a couple of really great drummers found out.
We were on a big summer tour as an opening act, onstage in front of a large and enthusiastic crowd. “Let It Roll” was on the set list and we were ready to launch into it hard and fast. We started in on it and what I heard coming from the drums scared the hell out of me. I thought Richie had suffered a heart attack. The beat was so incongruous it was as if the person was flailing to keep up with the band. I turned around in a panic and saw it was the drummer from the act we were on tour with. To be fair to that person, I’m leaving his name and the band he played with out of this. The look in his eyes was HELP! My look said, “You are in the hot seat, PLAY!” Later I went up to him and said, “I’m sure you thought it was an easy groove, right?” He said, “Yeah” in a low voice, his head down. I told him not to worry, that many folks had underestimated not only Richie, but the band itself, as to how easy it was to play our music. I wasn’t crowing about it, it’s just a fact. The changes are not simple, nor is the groove, as he found out. I know his respect for Richie went up immeasurably after that incident. The same thing happened when we were in the studio cutting a record with Tony Brown. Richie was on tour with Eric Clapton. The person playing drums, again I won’t mention who it was, wanted to play “Dixie Chicken” in between getting the sounds and starting the track we were hired to play. We took off on it and it just fell apart. He just couldn’t play it. Again I said, sounds easy, right? You know the rest of the story.
Dame shares a song from her new EP Preventions of Heartbreak.
Golden Bloom stopped by Relix to perform a tune from their latest EP No Day Like Today.
The Chapin Sisters share an tune from their new album A Date With the Everly Brothers.
Minneapolis-based Night Moves share a song from their record, Colored Emotions, live at Relix.
Cloud Cult share a song from their latest album live at Relix.
The Giving Tree Band enjoy a spring day on the Relix rooftop, while performing a classic Grateful Dead tune.
Canadian singer-songwriter Hayden performs a duet with his sister-in-law Lou Canon. The song appears on Us Alone his first record on Broken Social Scene’s Arts & Crafts Productions.
The Milk Carton Kids share the first song from their new album, The Ash & Clay.
Here is the new video from Serbian guitar ace Ana Popovic. “Object Of Obsession” appears on her latest album Can You Stand The Heat.
Ron Sexsmith visits the Relix office to perform a tune from his latest record Forever Endeavor.
- The National at Public Assembly and on Colbert (Gallery and Clips)
- John Fogerty and Dawes "Someday Never Comes" on Letterman
- Nicki Bluhm and The Gramblers "Little Too Late" Live at the Hangout
- John Fogerty: Wrote A Song For Everyone
- The Facebook Photo Contest Top 10
- Welcome to moe.town (Relix Revisited)
- Visions of the Hangout Music Festival 2013 (A Gallery)
- Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros Share "Better Days"
- Interlocken Festival to Feature Neil Young, Furthur, String Cheese Incident, Black Crowes, Zac Brown and More
- Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers "Friend of The Devil" at the Beacon
- The Salvation of Page McConnell (Relix Revisited)
- Interlocken Adds Widespread Panic and John Fogerty, Furthur to Play Workingman’s Dead
- Warren Haynes and Joe Bonamassa "If Heartaches Were Nickels"
- The Final Ingredient in Dogfish Head’s Grateful Dead Tribute Ale Is…
- Stone Gossard Readies His Moonlander
- Trey Anastasio Band at The Hangout (Video Stream)
- Doctor’s Orders: So what should we call the Super Ball IX Newspaper?
- John Kadlecik Posts Statement on Bob Weir’s Collapse
- "I Wanne Be In moe.": The Latest Volunteers
- Bob Weir Escorted Off Stage During Furthur Show
- Furthur Cancels BottleRock Show as Bob Weir Is Out Of Commision
- Vote for Your Favorite "I Wanne Be In moe." Contestant
- Doctor’s Orders: What’s Your Favorite Furthur Song? (Win Copy of Relix Signed by Phil and Bobby)
- On The Verge Poll