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The End of an Era

Posted: Monday, January 4, 2016 at 3:55pm

It is with sadness that we note the passing of Dal Richards, Vancouver’s legendary bandleader, who died on December 31, 2015, just five days before his 98th birthday. His remarkable life and career was showcased in his autobiography One More Time! The Dal Richard’s Story (2009), which he wrote with his good friend, the journalist Jim Taylor.

Dal Richards started his career at a time when songs came from records and radio instead of CDs and iPods. He saw Vancouver’s entertainment scene in Vancouver in the 1920s when the public’s appetite for vaudeville shows was insatiable, and in the 1930s and ’40s when Prohibition was in full swing. He started playing the clarinet in the Kitsilano Boys Band at the young age of 15 and went on to lead the Dal Richards Orchestra in nightly gigs at the Panorama Roof. He also met and befriended a legion of stars in the days when Hollywood’s big-name performers made Vancouver a regular tour stop. He played at the Pacific National Exhibition for over 70 years, and conducted the BC Lions marching band for 30 seasons. He won a legion of awards and honours, including the Variety Club of BC Heart Award, the PNE President’s Lifetime Achievement Award, the Order of BC, the Order of Canada, and a place in the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame.

In One More Time!, Dal ended his book with the passage: “One day the true Hour of Parting will come. When it does, I hope I’ve got a front-row seat in the real Balcony and the bands who’ve gone before are swinging.” The bands are swinging, Dal, and they’re swinging for you.