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Richard Lloyd

Fans of NY new wave staples TELEVISION will almost immediately recognise the name of guitarist RICHARD LLOYD – others not around from the punk era will obviously struggle. Post-TELEVISION, he’s released several albums of varied quality, while most recently in 2003, the man has played for a re-formed ROCKET FROM THE TOMBS, a group that led to PERE UBU and the DEAD BOYS.
Born October 25, 1951, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, his love of The BEATLES led to him becoming a drummer (under the tutorage of William Kessler), although by the time he was in his mid-teens, he’d taken up guitar under the wing of Velvert Turner, a top friend of JIMI HENDRIX. Something of a backstage hanger-on, in respects to him knowing the likes of the aforementioned HENDRIX, LED ZEPPELIN and JOHN LEE HOOKER, Richard began practicing guitar day and night. His first big break came after meeting Terry Ork, who duly gave him a roof over his head and introduced him to another budding guitarist, TOM VERLAINE (then known as Tom Miller). In 1973, alongside drummer Billy Ficca and bassist RICHARD HELL (alias Meyers), TELEVISION were formed; the latter was replaced by Fred Smith.
The cosmically subliminal “Marquee Moon” was unleashed in ’77, and while singer-songwriter VERLAINE stole most of the limelight, there was at least half a credit for LLOYD on `Guiding Light’. “Adventure” in 1978, was indeed the group’s last one until their brief reunification set in ’92; all went on to other projects, LLOYD releasing his debut solo set, ALCHEMY {*7}, late in 1979.
Produced by Michael Young and featuring a dearth of talent guest spots for the aforementioned Fred Smith, drummer Vinny DeNunzio (ex-FEELIES) and guitarist James Mastro (later of The BONGOS), the record was LLOYD’s first real attempt at singing lead. Breaking away from TELEVISION’s new wave traits, the man’s songwriting abilities were well above par, two songs at least, the title track and the sensitive `Misty Eyes’, winning over mainstream fans.
After the turn of the 80s, things took a downward spiral, as drugs took a hold of Richard. Releases abroad – `Keep On Dancin’’ was popular when issued in Sweden in ’85 – led to the American indie pressing of the rocking and upbeat of sophomore set, FIELD OF FIRE (1986) {*7}. A rougher set than its predecessor, croaky Richard came across something akin to SPRINGSTEEN fronting The HEARTBREAKERS (as Trouser Press poignantly put it); tracks such as `Watch Yourself’ and `Backtrack’ perfect examples of his newfound resurgence. Coming out of the shadow of TOM VERLAINE must’ve been hard and cleaning up his act, even tougher, but he managed to keep a certain profile on New York’s ever-thriving music scene. Augmented by second guitarist David Leonard, the live at the CBGB’s set, REAL TIME (1987) {*6}, unearthed a one-time TELEVISION concert staple in his rendition of The 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS’ `Fire Engine’. Other songs had featured on his previous sets, one especially, an excellent 9-minute version of `Field Of Fire’, coming in for high praise.
After helping out JOHN DOE on his post-X set, `Meet John Doe’, LLOYD kept himself busy during the early half of the 90s with songwriting credits and guitar sessions for MATTHEW SWEET (three albums, `Girlfriend’, `Altered Beast’ and `100% Fun’), although parental considerations and teaching guitar also took up much of his time.
LLOYD eventually returned to solo work on THE COVER DOESN’T MATTER (2001) {*6}, a belated set of pared-back alt-rock cuts recorded with Peter Stuart (bass) and Chris Butler (drums); the latter from The WAITRESSES. If indie/power-pop had been missed first time around by Richard, simple songs such as `The Knockdown’, `Ain’t It Time’ and `Strangestrange’, were perfect tracks for a mainstream resurgence. Thing is, Richard was now hitting 50, hardly time to let one’s hair down.
Still, no one could grumble with two further sets, THE RADIANT MONKEY (2007) {*7} and THE JAMIE NEVERTS STORY (2009) {*6}, the latter a thinly-disguised full-album tribute to the music of former acquaintance JIMI HENDRIX and his close buddy, Velvert. Accompanied by his own “Experience” in drummer Chris Purdy and bassist Keith Hartel, axeman extraordinaire LLOYD works his way through classic cuts from `Purple Haze’ to `Are You Experienced’.
Fast forward seven years and the former TELEVISION man issued a rather low-key set of download songs in ROSEDALE (2016) {*5}; but tracking it down was an adventure in itself; by all accounts `The Word’ was its most prominent piece; Billy Ficca (ex-TELEVISION) or Chris Frantz (ex-TALKING HEADS) cameo’d on drums. Towards the fall of 2018, THE COUNTDOWN {*6} finally gave fans an official release to chew on. The glowing set featured drumming by Steve Ebe, bass by Dave Roe and keyboards from Joe Bidewell, but most of all that distinctive gutsy guitar sound that made LLOYD almost famous back in the day yielded standout pieces, `Wind In The Rain’, `So Sad’ and `Countdown’.
© MC Strong/MCS Sep2012-Jun2019

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