The Great RICK JARRARD
Updated: Feb 11
We lost Rick Jarrard in October and sadly realize there will never be anyone like him again for us on Earth.
Rick Jarrard was assigned to produce a record for Feliciano when he first moved from NY to LA in 1967. It was Rick who, despite the luke-warm approach RCA took with their new artist, ‘studied’ Jose intently; knowing he couldn’t be 'put in a box and bridled.' His music, Rick insisted, came 'from a place far deeper than anyone had every explored.'
Rick gave Jose the freedom to become FELICIANO!, the recipient of the multi-Grammy Award-winning album which catapulted him onto the world stage where he still finds his home, over 50 years later.
Rick and Jose’s brotherhood spanned decades, weathered storms and celebrated successes including the obvious, Light My Fire, California Dreamin', Che Sarà and Feliz Navidad. They recorded Behind This Guitar in Nashville and its story is still being written today with a new release in Autumn 2021, Behind This Guitar DELUXE.
Rick's wife, Nancy, asked us that ‘a Bio’ be written for her to share at Rick’s Celebration of Life and with the media. Now, it appears here, with our deepest affection:
The world of music is mourning the loss of one of its most beloved sons: Rick Jarrard; producer, writer, publisher, musician, husband, father/grandfather and loyal friend to countless others. He passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 13th 2021, after a long illness.
Born in Waycross, Georgia, Rick Jarrard, the hard-working, God and County-loving son of a farmer's wife, was inspired by her encouragement to pursue his passions from an early age. In between his daybreak and evening chores, he taught himself voice and harmony and how to play a number of musical instruments, ultimately finding himself as a member of the folk group, the Greenwood County Singers.
Rick’s legacy, though, forged over the past 50+ years, began as a young, but gifted, staff producer for RCA Records in Los Angeles. He produced Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow, including their mega-hits White Rabbit and Somebody to Love, which catapulted them to stardom as one of the great rock bands of all time. Soon after, Rick signed Harry Nilsson to RCA where his career was set in motion with Pandemonium Shadow Show and Aerial Ballet that included, One, Without Her, and its most important hit, Everybody’s Talkin'.
THE Enduring Relationship of a Lifetime between producer and artist (and soon: forever friend and brother) came about, though, when José Feliciano was assigned to Rick Jarrard as a new artist for RCA in late 1967. His task to record the young talent in the fashion of his recent successes found him studying José’s style during a local club performance. Recognizing his raw and unbridled talent as the obvious path towards his commercial success, Jarrard channeled, rather than positioned Feliciano, allowing him to soar, musically, to world-wide superstardom with, not only a working, but a familial, relationship that continued throughout their lifetimes.
From José’s interpretation of the Doors’ Light My Fire and California Dreamin’ by the Mamas & Papas, with Beatle tunes and instrumentals rounding out their first album, Feliciano!, Rick proved that that was THE Way to produce someone like José Feliciano. Plus, José trusted him. For example, during the recording of their holiday album in 1970, Rick encouraged his artist to “write a new Christmas song” and in order to please his friend, José spontaneously penned Feliz Navidad.
Today, this recording is recognized by ASCAP as one of the 25 most played Christmas songs worldwide and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. In 2019, before Rick produced their album, Behind This Guitar on Anthem Records in Nashville, he scoured his resources for material and found Eagle When She’s Flies by Dolly Parton. He instinctively envisioned it as a perfect duet for José with Dolly. It was released by Anthem Records on September 17th 2021, less than a month before Rick’s passing, but on that day, his wife, Nancy, heard it on the radio while driving to the hospital and raced to share her news. Yet another dream and ambition, not necessarily for himself but for his ‘Little Buddy,’ had been realized.
Rick Jarrard’s presence in the music industry continued his entire adult life producing and scouting talent; having found Michael McDonald at the age of 17, to coming to the aid of Elvis Presley, who implored Rick to help assemble what would be called his TCB Band. Innumerable awards, gold and platinum records and recognitions of all kinds could’ve adorned the walls of his mountain-top home in California but he never hung them up. His pleasure was in every human being he met and in knowing of the joy his music brought to people everywhere.
Rick served on NARAS’ Board of Governors for the Grammys and was a charter member of The Latin Grammys. He has been acknowledged in Who’s Who In America, Who’s Who In The World, Who’s Who In Finance and Industry and the International Dictionary of Biographies. He owns production and publishing companies and served on the Board of Directors for Ovation School for the Performing Arts, a non-profit dedicated to the discovery, education and development of character and talent through the performing arts.
Rick leaves behind his loving wife, Nancy and their son, Josh; daughter-in-law, Lisa, and grandchildren, Lauren, Tyler and Matt; along with a world of broken-hearted friends and listeners everywhere. Simply put, for those who know and love music, they certainly knew and loved Rick Jarrard.