Looking at James L. Richard`s family, it was fairly safe to say that the Oakland native was not going to be a street sweeper or a computer programmer. From the beginning, the band leader/music director for the Bay Area Icons, The Sekret Service™, and formerly of Club Nouveau, was introduced to music by his talented musical family. His uncles are William Richard and Roy Richard of the Doo Wop group The Robins and original members of the chart topping icons The Coasters. His older brother Billy has been a member of the legendary R&B group since 1962.
James` dad was the legendary Rev J. L. Richard, pastor and founder of Evergreen Baptist Church of Oakland and a Baptist icon. He lead the political charge for black people in the Bay Area and across the nation. A celebrity in his field working with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Julian Bond, and a young Jesse Jackson among others.
James Mom, Dortha Lee Richard, lived with the Frank Sinatra family working as Nancy Sinatra`s personal assistant (from the ages of 17-21 at that). She dressed Mrs. Sinatra (bought all her clothes and jewelry), handled all her appointments, acted as her single personal liaison and mentored of Frank Jr. and Tina until she married Rev. Richard in the early 50`s.
The precocious musician started playing drums at 4 years of age and moved on to piano at 5. His Godfather gave him his first guitar at 14 and, soon thereafter, started playing Bass emulating his Funk Hero William Bootsy Collins.
During college Richard says he formed Oakland bands called The Millennium Falcons and The 60s Kidz along with his original Sekret Service™ comrade, the Incredible Mr. Risque (Kelvin L. Haynes). He says that the group dressed up in rugby shirts adorned with safety pins and played new wave and punk rock tunes.
Following his punk phase, Richard became enamored by Prince and a burgeoning new music form known as rap. During this time Richard wanted to form a band called The Secret Service but found he had to settle for The Sekret Service™. "You cannot copyright a name of a government agency," he says.
While the old version of the The Sekret Service™ played all the popular artists of the time like Michael Jackson and Prince, Richard says the band also covered more adventurous fare. "We were a top 40 band, but we took chances, he says. We did Depeche Mode."
By the mid-80`s, Richard had a friend, that would become his mutually adopted brother, who started making waves in the music industry, Jay King. King was the dictator behind the Timex Social Club, who had a hit with Rumors, and Club Nouveau. Club Nouveau and took the world by storm with such charted hits as "Situation Number 9", "Why You Treat Me So Bad," "Jealousy," "Heavy On My Mind," and the number one Grammy award winning remake of the Bill Withers classic: "Lean On Me." Their songs have been covered or sampled by such varied artists as Jennifer Lopez, R Kelly, Ashanti, Puff Daddy, Jessica Simpson and The Luniz.
Richard pulled the plug on The Sekret Service™ band to focus on doing studio work as The Sekret Service™; scoring films, composing commercials, designing sounds and producing and engineering recordings. He ended up working with artists like R&B outfits Tony! Toni! Tone!, of course Club Nouveau, and dozens of rap/hip hop artists such as Askari X, Dru Down, Young Dre and Rodney O.
However, in June of 2004, Richard realized he was missing the feel of performing in front of a crowd and formed The New Sekret Service™ until late 2008 reverting back to The Sekret Service™ moniker.
Richard says he embraced the same philosophy that the past version of his band adhered to.
"We picked material that are huge, number one, smash hits, but we make sure no one else plays it, he says. All the bands play the same songs, boring people to tears with their predictability My goal is to entertain and interact with the people, making sure they never forget the experience."
As of 2014, James retired from the band and Club Nouveau. However, he continues to record, compose, produce music videos and interact with people all over the world and beyond. In fact, his newest passion is teaching. He is currently working on his master`s degree in History!
Real Men Wear Black™