Richard Dangel died on December 3rd of a brain aneurysm, just after marking his 60th birthday Sunday before. It was a devastating blow to music fans in the Northwest and beyond.
Probably best know as a founding member of the Fabulous Wailers in 1958 and composer of the hit "Tall Cool One," Rich Dangel was a gifted and respected guitar player who influenced a generation and is credited for pioneering the "Northwest Sound." Even rock guitar legend, Jimi Hendrix acknowledged Rich as a major influence. While Dangel would only stay with the band until 1963, he would again gain National attention when he put together the renowned Floating Bridge with another regional guitarist, the late Jo Johansen in 1968. The band had all the makings for superstardom in the Psychedelic 60's but was derailed by inter-conflict among the members and broke up in 1970. Rich formed another ground breaking band called Sledgehammer after the split. In the mid-70's Richard brought together Seattle cream of the crop and put together a group that would become the Reputations. With Tim Scott on bass and vocals (former member of Tower Of Power) and Jimmy Holden (brother of Ron Holden) on keyboards and vocals, the group combined funk, blues, and R&B with a fierce attitude and a razor sharp sound. By the 1980's, Rich was playing with two top drawing bands in Seattle, The Reputations and The Dick Powell Blues Band. However, the success was a double edged sword and soon he found himself cocaine to keep up with his busy schedule.
The 1990's started out worse than Rich could possibly imagine. Both groups, The Reputations and Dick Powell, were on the downslide while Richard's cocaine use was consuming him. Finally, after almost a decade of abuse, Rich Dangel decided to get clean. Not only did he get clean, but he also got his certificate as a drug and alcohol counselor so he could help others who had fallen victim to the disease.
While the Wailers had teamed up for nostalgic reunion shows throughout the years, in 2001, Rich reunited with the original members of the Fabulous Wailers and release the acclaimed Cadillac To Mexico CD. The new material invigorated the band and they set out on a successful tour of the East coast.
Rich's last band was Butter Bean with Northwest Legend and WBS Hall Of Fame inductee, Buck England on Hammond B3 and Michael Kinder on drums. The group performed their last gig the night before Rich died.
Rich Dangel's genius was his ability to adapt to any genre. Like a classically trained virtuoso, he played with a seemingly effortless grace. While Rich's time in the national spotlight was fleeting, the tall cool one in his trademark cap was a welcome site in the Seattle area and he will be missed by friends and fans alike.
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