Richard Smith was born in Beckenham, Kent, England in 1971. One day, at the age of five, Richard was watching his father fingerpick “Down South Blues” (an Atkins-Travis recording) on his guitar. The boy begged his dad to show him how to play it, and finally he did. Despite the fact that Richard is left-handed and his dad’s right-handed guitar was not designed for tiny hands, by the end of that day, Richard learned and played both the chords and the melody. Within no time, the toddler outstripped his dad’s six-string prowess and it was clear to all who saw or heard him play that Richard was one of those rare phenomena -- a child prodigy.
Concentrating initially on the music his father loved – the country picking of Chet Atkins and Merle Travis – young Richard digested everything he heard, learning even the most complicated of these tunes with ease, and confounded everyone with his dexterity. It seemed that, not only did the boy possess amazing physical skill, but a photographic musical memory as well. Often, a single hearing was all it took to get a piece under his fingers.
Richard first met his hero, the “Godfather” of finger style guitar, Chet Atkins when he was only eleven and was invited by Chet to play with him on stage at Her Majesty’s Theatre in London in front of an audience of about a thousand. He played Chet’s arrangement of “Whispering,” and Chet played along with him. Then the audience went mad and Chet asked him to play another one. Before Richard could decide what to play, someone shouted “Little Rock Getaway.” and Richard played Chet’s arrangement of it while Chet, not playing this time, watched him in amazement playing to a stunned and appreciative audience. By the time he reached his early twenties, both Chet Atkins and Jerry Reed began to refer to Richard Smith as their “Hero” – and still do.
There seems to be no limit to Richard’s ability to quickly master whatever guitar style captures his fancy. The complex styles of many guitar greats including Django Reinhardt, Les Paul, and Lenny Breau have proved to be no impediment to his voracious musical appetite. Apart from his guitar virtuosity, he is also an accomplished banjo and violin player.
Richard has toured around the world, surprising audiences everywhere with his genius, showcasing a repertoire spanning an incredible range of musical styles from country, bluegrass, mainstream jazz, modern pop and rock, to classical guitar. Richard also plays several of John Phillip Souza’s marches and, incredibly, comes close to sounding like an entire marching band – drums and all.
In 1999, Richard married the lovely and very accomplished American cellist Julie Adams and settled in the Nashville, TN area. When they play together, it'll melt your heart - and blow your socks off!
Now thirty, Richard Smith is nothing less than a phenomenon. But, words alone are inadequate to describe his guitar wizardry. You may be a doubting Thomas until you’ve witnessed him for yourself. But, once you have, you’ll be a fan for life!
Here’s what a few of his fellow guitarists have to say about him:
“The most amazing guy I know on the guitar.”
“He can play anything I know, only better.”
Chet Atkins, CGP
Richard Smith owns many instruments, but his most prized is a guitar, which has written on it, “To my hero, Richard” -- signed
Jerry Reed and Chet Atkins
Guitar playing at its finest. Don’t miss this one.”
“If you like my playing, you should hear Richard Smith.”
Tommy Emmanuel, CGP
“He is one of the world’s greatest guitarists.”