Like the Wizard of Oz, Richmond is an invisible facilitator, making sure that each concert, recital and presentation goes smoothly.
He doesn’t mind his role behind the curtain, either. As the music department’s senior electronics technician for 21 years, he’s devoted to helping others record, edit and compose their own music.
“It’s very rewarding to be with the students and faculty here, who are working to learn as much about their craft as possible and to prepare themselves to spend their lives making music,” Richmond said. “The music business itself would never offer that kind of gratification.”
Richmond knows whereof he speaks. After earning a B.S. in electrical engineering in 1974 from Pittsburg State University in Kansas, he decided that he wanted to be in the music industry. He packed up his family and moved to Austin, Texas, where his electrical expertise won him a job at the Austin Opry House, owned by Willie Nelson.
“I’d been helping move some sound equipment before The Byrds gave a concert,” he recalled, “and right before the show was supposed to start, one of the guitar connectors broke. No one had the tools to fix it, but I had stuff in my car so I ran out, came back and fixed it. The gig went great and Willie’s sound crew was impressed, so they offered me a job.”
After a year at the Opry House working with acts like Waylon Jennings, Tom Waits and Kris Kristofferson, Richmond moved to Los Angeles for a job at Capitol Records, where he helped maintain the equipment that made 8-track tapes. In the late 1970s, Richmond took a job as assistant chief engineer at The Village Recorder studios in West Los Angeles.
Two years later, while editing a documentary on The Doors’ Jim Morrison at UCLA’s film school, Richmond applied for and accepted a position in the music department.
In addition to recording all musical performances, Richmond supervises the department’s CD dubbing lab and oversees the recording studio, where music students work on compositions.
He also maintains the audio and video equipment in the music classrooms, purchases all recording and dubbing equipment for the department and does some live sound support when guest lecturers and musicians perform.
Some of the artists he’s helped record include Tito Puente, Kenny Burrell and Elgart & Yates. But Richmond is not motivated by celebrity names. He loves working with and helping students become better musicians.
“You can make a lot of money in the music industry,” Richmond explained, “but it’s not very fulfilling. At UCLA, people are hungry for learning and growth, and that’s a great way to live your life.”