Former New Orleans rock band engineer kicking back in Summit |

Former New Orleans rock band engineer kicking back in Summit

Shauna Farnell

FRISCO – Frisco resident David Richardson has raced motorcycles, managed a strip club and lived the rock-n-roll lifestyle. And, if he’s learned anything through it all, it’s that he should “live one day at a time.”

The most colorful portion of Richardson’s story took place on the road, where he spent five years as sound engineer for a rock band.

“It was late-’70s, early-’80s … I went on tour with a band called ‘Free Spirit’ as a professional sound engineer,” he said. “They were kind of a show band; they played a lot of Led Zeppelin and David Bowie covers. I drove the equipment truck and the band members drove a motor home. It was wild.”

While not a rock star himself, Richardson got a solid dose of the lifestyle as he made his way around the country.

“I can tune a guitar, tune a piano, tune drums, set up anything, but I never took the time to learn to play,” he said. “But, I do have a good ear. Believe me, sound men get their share of recognition, I’ll say that much. There were a lot of good times, but most of them I wouldn’t put in the paper. I do remember playing on the beach in Galveston, Texas – actually playing on the beach. I remember playing at the Air Force base in Wichita Falls for 6,000 airmen. I got food poisoning that night. Literally, in the middle of the first set, I had to leave the mixing board to go throw up. It was Mexican food. I got some bad stuff. But that was a great gig.”

Richardson has worked in close quarters with the likes of the Neville Brothers, the B-52s, the Talking Heads and Frank Zappa, the latter whom he said was every bit as weird as his reputation.

Working as a sound engineer was the most technical and the most gratifying era of his career, Richardson said, but he hasn’t picked up much work in the field since moving to Colorado.

One of Richardson’s first introductions to the High Country after moving into an old mining cabin near Leadville from New Orleans 15 years ago, was getting a Gestapo-style wake-up call from his landlord early one morning.

“Everyone called him ‘The Nazi,’ Richardson recalls. “I was late on rent, and he came over at about 2 a.m. and knocked on the door. He came down in his S.S. uniform and with a pistol in his holster.”

Richardson, now 45, moved from the cabin and settled in Frisco, where he still resides.

He has spent the majority of his years here working in restaurants; he got his first experience in the trade working as a bar manager at a club in Florida that eventually transformed into a strip joint.

“I lasted a month after the switch,” he said. “It was more than I wanted to deal with.”

Richardson has seen the changing faces of many Summit County restaurants, and put in 10 years as a cook and a bartender at the Moose Jaw.

Richardson spent 132 days on the mountain the first season he moved into town, but he has tapered off as his knee problems (originating from early days as a motocross racer) grow progressively worse.

He now works at Frisco Liquors, where he always has an educated recommendation of wine for his indecisive patrons, but he spends much of his time fishing, hunting and experimenting with 3-D animation.

“Eventually I’d like to make a full-length DVD movie,” he said.

Like everyone, Richardson has had his ups and downs, but he is working on perfecting the art of living for the moment.

“When I tell myself I’m down, I always step outside and look around me,” he said. “I think about all the beautiful things I’ve seen and it gets me through it.”

Shauna Farnell can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 236, or at

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