Richard Hayward, 1946-2010

Here’s a sad item that I missed while I was disconnected last month: drummer Richie Hayward, who since 1969 was the rhythmic anchor of the incomparable rock/blues/funk band Little Feat, died on August 14th of liver cancer and pneumonia. I was a huge fan of both Hayward and the band, and I am very sorry indeed to hear this news.

I got to work with Richie exactly once: on a two-day soundtrack session back in 1988 or so, at Cherokee Studios in LA, for the movie Bull Durham. The project was a real treat — the players included Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt, Little Feat bassist Kenny Gradney, and the great tenor player Bennie Wallace — but the biggest thrill of all for me was the chance to record Richie Hayward, on whom I had had a “drummer’s crush” since Little Feat’s founding. He turned out to be an easy-going, friendly fellow with a crackling sense of humor, and I liked him very much.

To us drummers, Richie was a giant, and he will be sorely missed. His New York times obituary is here, and there is a Wikipedia article about him here.

While I was poking around online looking for reactions to Richie Hayward’s death, I found one that stood out, on a fine blog I’d never run across before. The site is called Parking in Bitterman Circle, and it is the home of one Aron Michalski, who is a musician and roadie. He writes very well indeed, and I recommend his site to all.

Mr. Michalski’s post about Richie Hayward is titled The Drummer for Planet Earth’s House Band, and that about sums it up. You can read it here.

Also, imagine my surprise when I saw that the previous item on Mr. Michalksi’s blog was about Cape Cod’s own house band, the Incredible Casuals, who have been pummeling eardrums at the Wellfleet Beachcomber for the past 30 summers. (I’ve mentioned them myself in these pages, here and here, and the lovely Nina and I had in fact just taken in their penultimate Summer ’10 gig at the ‘Coma the weekend before Labor Day.) Read all about them here.


  1. Joe Abelson says

    Dear Malcolm,

    Thanks for this. I hadn’t known about Richie Hayward’s death until I read your post.

    I wasn’t much into the post-Lowell Feat, but their earlier recordings are still in heavy rotation around here. After 35 years and a zillion plays, that band is still as much of a joy to listen to as anything I know.

    With Little Feat, it’s easy to find yourself focusing on one particular part or another. Maybe a slide vibrato or a conga slap. More often than not, it’s something that Richie is doing. An unexpected syncopation or subtle twist of the hi hat. Mostly, it’s those grooves. Always restrained, laying just right between and around the other guys. “Fat Man…” “Skin It Back” “Long Distance Love” They couldn’t be any better or more fun.

    I’m sorry I missed you at the last PDS jam thing that Carl put together. Maybe we’ll both be there in 2013 and we can give “Sailin’ Shoes” or “On Your Way Down” a run.

    See you,


    Posted October 3, 2010 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Joe! What a happy surprise to hear from you.

    Like you, I thought LF was never the same after Lowell George (whose birthday, by the way, was the same as mine) died. But if there was anything that held that band together after that awful day, it was Richie Hayward’s unconquerable groove.

    That jam we had was such a blast that we are all eager to do it again. You were missed. We’ll give you plenty of notice for the next one.

    Posted October 3, 2010 at 11:38 am | Permalink
  3. Joe says

    Yeah. It was a nice surprise to google into your blog, Malcolm.

    I played at the 2003 reunion with Carl, Bushnell, Bill Flemer, and a friend of John’s on drums. Zonder Kennedy, too, but he only stayed for a couple of songs. It was all great fun.

    I’d always hoped there’d be another chance to play with you, Carl, and Bob. We did one gig together as a band, right? At a school out near where you lived. I vaguely recall you taking lead vocals on “Live With Me”, unless I dreamt that.

    Take care, my old friend.


    Posted October 3, 2010 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    Your memory is correct, Joe, including the “live With Me part. I believe “Rufus Jackson” played exactly one gig.

    I’m pretty sure we’ll be getting together again for more music, and we will be sure to get you involved.

    You take care too! We’ll meet again.

    P.S. I saw Carl the other day. His newest artist, Shontelle, is making the same upward arc that his former discovery, Rihanna, did a few years ago.

    Posted October 3, 2010 at 6:45 pm | Permalink
  5. Joe says

    Rufus Jackson, indeed. I remembered the “Rufus” part but I wasn’t sure about the rest. Some idea Bob had about memorializing a fictional old blues singer.

    Posted October 4, 2010 at 11:52 am | Permalink
  6. Thank you for your kind words about the blog. Richie and Rikki are both huge influences even though I don’t play drums anymore. The complete immersion that they both had live into the song, the groove, the loud, is both unique and mandatory IMOHO. I feel blessed to have seen them both play dozens of times and am richer for it.

    Posted October 24, 2010 at 6:47 am | Permalink

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