What qualities of the guitar attracted you more than other instruments? Do you play any other instruments?
I grew up playing piano. My mother was a classically trained pianist and I took lessons from the age of 6 until I was around 12 years old. I was dyslexic so reading music was hard for me and the process was never fun. I played a neighbors drum set whenever I could, and he finally let me borrow them and take them home to play. Needless to say, my parents were not thrilled! My dad told me he’d buy me anything I wanted if I got rid of the drums, so that Christmas I got an electric guitar. I knew right away that was the instrument for me. It was something I could play plugged in or even unplugged. I could carry it with me everywhere I went. I could write songs and develop my own voice. I was an only child and never one of the “popular” kids growing up, so the guitar opened doors to making friends and getting attention in a world where I had previously always felt invisible. The guitar quickly became my best friend and whatever I put into it, I always got at least that, if not much more back in return.
What one single bit of advice would you give students with respect to how they can improve their musicianship?
You really have to invest time and energy into your playing if you’re going to learn to play. To best insure you invest your time and energy wisely, this usually means finding the right teacher, someone who can teach AND inspire you along the journey.
How long have you been playing and what’s the toughest challenge you’ve faced as a guitarist over the years?
I’ve been playing for over 35 years– supporting myself with music my entire life. The actual business of music is hard, so the greatest challenge I’ve faced throughout my many years as an artist is finding ways to remain inspired, to not give up, and to not let the passion I have for playing my guitar wither in my quest to support myself.
Who’s been your biggest influence as a musician? What is the best advice you ever received musically?
Jimi Hendrix is my greatest influence. He had no limits to what he tried to achieve as a guitarist or as an artist. The best advice I ever received was from Albert King. I had the opportunity to play with him shortly before he died and he told me, “Your guitar is like a gun, if you pull if out, you better mean to use it!” I’ve never forgotten that.
What projects are coming up for you? How should students stay in touch?
I have a number of exciting things going on this year. I’m currently touring in support of a new live CD I released in March of this year titled, “The Kelly Richey Band Live At The Blue Wisp”. We are touring the USA, Canada, and Australia. I just finished shooting a new TrueFire guitar instruction course titled “Blues Grit” that will be launched later this year. The best way to stay in touch with me is through my website. You can sign up for my newsletter, read my my blog posts, check out my other social media links, sign up to be a student in my TrueFire Classroom, take a one-on-one private lesson through Skype, or drop me an email!