Richard William Kendrick Jr. was born in Castro Valley, California on August 14, 1956. The Kendrick family lived in Hayward until Richard was about two, and then relocated to the Mission San Jose district in Fremont, CA.
Richard started playing guitar when he was 12. His sister Kathy had decided to quit her banjo lessons, and his parents (Marge and Dick) asked if he would be interested in getting some lessons. Donald F. Overton taught guitar and banjo, and charged $3.50 per half-hour for in-house private guitar lessons. Richard decided he wanted to play the guitar. He completed Alfred’s book I in September, 1969.
Richard had played some trombone in Elementary School and Junior High, but he soon found he had a real passion for the guitar. The earliest interest he recalls in music was the pop song “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies. He quickly graduated to Credence Clearwater Revival. At this time he also took some lessons with Debbie Thomas at the local music store. “It was Debbie who taught me bar chords, for which I will always be grateful.” Richard’s next infatuation was with rock/blues guitarist Johnny Winter. “I spent so much time playing with my Johnny Winter albums one summer, it was so hot and we had no air conditioning, some fungus started growing on me.” He also loved Edgar Winter’s music.
Richard would play guitar all day and take his guitar with him wherever he went. He played with anyone he knew who could play, and would have them play chords so he could improvise. He played in local bands throughout high school, and worked his way up, playing with better and better players. Eventually, he found himself playing with the best local player around, Art Najera.
“There were some other good local players around, but Art was the best and most well-known.” Richard enjoyed a sort of an apprenticeship with Art, playing parties as well as local concerts, even opening up for Y & T at the Newark Pavilion on one occasion. Richard excelled as a rock and blues guitarist, he was fast, exciting, and extremely competent. However, Richard was becoming intrigued with another style of music. He didn’t understand it but he liked it; it was jazz.
At about age 20, Richard sought instruction from Eddie Pasternak. Eddie was a student of jazz guitarist Warren Nunes, and he played extensively around the Bay Area with his bass playing girlfriend and drummer Dave Black. Eddie was a great teacher, and taught Richard all about ii, V, I, I6 progressions and the basics of how jazz tunes were structured. After about 14 months, Eddie recommended Richard to Warren as a new student. Richard was a student of Mr. Nunes for nearly 7 years. “I have an outstanding record as a student with Warren; I never missed one lesson in 7 years. Once I had the flu and went the next day.” Richard co- wrote an instruction book with Warren in 1983. Titled “Rock to Fusion” it was published by Hansen House. He also completed another instruction book with Warren which was ultimately never published.
Toward the end of his study with Nunes, Richard went to the Great American Music Hall to see Stormin’ Bruce Forman. The opener was the great duo Tuck and Patti. “I was very impressed by Tuck, and asked him after the show if he gave lessons. I was lucky enough to study with him for about 1 year, before he was totally big time”.
As well as playing local gigs like weddings, corporate parties, clubs and concerts, Richard began to do more teaching. To enhance his credibility he decided to get a music degree. He attended the local community college and then transferred to Cal State Hayward. Since he already had a strong jazz background Richard chose to study classical guitar.
His teacher at CSUH was Jim Bertram. Jim was an “old school” college instructor. “He didn’t care what you could already play or what you already knew.” He was a taskmaster. Richard was driven hard and learned to play guitar and lute pieces from each of the musical periods. Though he felt like a slave to the instrument at this time, Richard learned a lot and became a proficient classical guitarist. After receiving his B. A., he continued his study at Cal State and earned his M.A degree there (Performance emphasis/Classical guitar).
While studying at Hayward, Richard played for two years in Cal State’s Jazz Ensemble conducted by Dave Eshelman. “Eshelman was a great arranger and always had a first rate band.” Art Landy and Joe Henderson were among some of the guest artists Richard got to perform with. He also associated with Dave Duañes, trading lessons and playing some together, and studied with Richard Flores during this time.
Unfortunately, just 1 unit from earning his Masters degree, Richard strained the interostious muscle of his left hand. “It was a freak accident resulting from overuse and the cracking my knuckle after a long day of practice.” Richard was unable to play for 5 months, but did deliver his graduate recital performance nine months later. Graduation was bittersweet, however. Though he had learned much and advanced his musicianship greatly, he also suffered terribly while trying to recover from his hand injury.
Almost immediately after leaving Cal State, Richard got a part-time teaching position at Ohlone College in Fremont. He continued on there as adjunct faculty in their Music Dept. for 20 years. Additionally, Richard has owned and operated the Mission San Jose School of Guitar in Fremont since 1997. It has remained a successful business for 23 yrs.
In 2005 Richard self- published his G-String Guitar Method, an accelerated beginning instruction book. He has also composed many works for both jazz and classical guitar. Some of these can be heard on his “Havana Dream” CD, which received some airplay on KCSM.
Most recently, Richard has expanded his teaching with online instruction. He continues compose his own music, and is constantly in the process of developing new study materials for his guitar students.
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