Today is June 17th, 2011 – which is the 7 year anniversary of the passing of Howard “Richard” Tepp – The lead singer of Richard and the Young Lions (also known as RYL). I wasn’t thinking about that milestone intentionally today, but it kinda jumped out at me accidentally, so it seems like the universe really wanted me to make a note out of it. and what better way than a blog? :)
Other than today being the release of the new Green Lantern movie (just remember, my company name is LANTERN Media Productions), it wasn’t supposed to be an extra-ordinary day. I was just working from home, trying to decide which showing of the movie I will see.
I was Twittering back and forth with my friend Jedi-J (aka Jason Antonelli) about my Lost Boys of the Bronx: The Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang book and my Out of Our Dens: The Richard and the Young Lions Story documentary I did back in 2004. I had recently sent both to him, and he had just finished them and was giving me his review on both.
Side Note: Jedi-J (his preferred name, don’t ask LOL) is one of my interview subjects for my new book about costumers, and we’ve become friends over the last few months. He does a killer Obi-Wan Kenobi (the Ewan McGregor one), and has a really interesting story that will come out partially in my new book, but really deserves his own book – If nobody else grabs him by the time I’m done with this book, I’m seriously going to consider writing it myself)
So, I was talking with Jedi-J about my RYL documentary and he asked how the band was doing nowadays, and I told him that Richard Tepp had died back in June 2004 – I forgot the date, but it was 4 days after I had completely finished my documentary on him and the band. And Jedi-J was really shocked that he had died, and started asking questions about the days leading up to his passing, and how he felt the documentary became a lot more poignant knowing that.
So me being me, I started sending Jedi-J links to a few videos that came out after Richard’s passing.
First was the Holy Grail of videos. It was a clip of Richard and the Young Lions playing “Open Up Your Door” in Detroit in 1966 on a show called “Swinging Time”. It was the Holy Grail because this video was rumored to have existed, but after extensive searching while making the documentary, nobody could find it, so we put the documentary out without it. A couple of years later, it magically appeared and we could now see the band performing back in their prime. Click the link above to view it. Cool huh?
Second video was a Tribute to Richard Tepp I had made back in 2004. RYL was appearing at a show to memorialize Richard at Little Steven’s Underground Garage Festival where Richard’s son Casey Tepp and Mike Fornatale filled in for Richard.
And the final video was the premiere for my Out of Our Dens documentary at the Pioneer Theatre in New York City on July 8th, 2004. It was 20 days after Richard passed and we all felt his absence in the room. In a room that should have held 150 people, we had about 225 people watching the movie, and keeping Richard’s spirit alive. After the movie, Richard’s friends and bandmates eulogized him, and gave the audience a preview of the CD that they had just finished (more on this CD later on in this blog) – It was one of the best nights of my life where I had just had a great reaction to the documentary I had spent the last 4 years on, AND we were able to give Richard a sendoff that he deserved.
While finding the links to these video clips for Jedi-J, I saw the words that stopped me in my tracks
“On Thursday, June 17th 2004, we lost Howard “Richard” Tepp – lead singer for Richard and the Young Lions, to leukemia”
I had to look at a calendar to be sure, but this random occurrence of me pulling out RYL/Richard videos happened 7 years to the date of Richard’s passing.
Ok, I get a little melancholy and watch the old videos once every couple of years, but its been a long time since I watched em last – and to have them pop up on the magic number 7th anniversary of Richard’s passing, thats just too coincidental. It was almost like the universe set up a not-so-random series of events in the past week to make sure I would find them today. I hope by posting the videos and this blog, I have achieved whatever purpose I had and made people remember Richard today.
Melodrama about the coincidence aside, Richard really was an awesome person. Sure he was Richard of Richard and the Young Lions, but he was so much more than that. When people watch the documentary, they usually ask what was up with him because he didn’t look right… He had a lot of medical problems during the time that I knew him – I’m not even including the Leukemia that buy ambien without prescription eventually killed him – that the band & I only found out about a few weeks before his eventual death. I forgot the names of all the diseases now, but I will always remember the reason that caused his posture to be so weird. Richard was a bartender when he wasn’t a rockstar, and during a bar fight between two patrons, he tried to break it up and was hit over the back with a chair causing him lifelong pain.
He was a peacemaker. Another time he was robbed and shot 3 times, but he never held a grudge against the people who shot him. He was more angry at the police officer who assumed that Richard deserved it due to a drug deal gone bad. Check out the extras of the Out of Our Dens documentary to hear these stories in Richard’s own words…
I miss the dude – when I got so angry at the band that I walked away from the documentary project for almost a year, Richard is the one that got me to come back. And I’m glad I did. The documentary didn’t make me rich, but it gave me something that I will never forget.
When I completely finished the documentary back in early June 2004 and sent it off to the DVD maker, I knew Richard wasn’t doing so hot. He had recently announced his Leukemia prognosis and he wasn’t going to be long for this world. At one of the final band rehearsals, I gave Richard a home-made DVD of the documentary…
He got together that week with some of the original RYL members who were visiting him (saying their last goodbyes) and watched it. Marc Lees, the original RYL guitarist told me that night that even tho Richard was fading in and out due to the drugs, he kept watching it. And when it was all over, he had a smile on his face and said, “Wow, that was us – We were really something, weren’t we?” He had really loved it!
Then the horrible news came 4 days later that Richard had passed. Even tho I was heartbroken, I have always been happy that I had been able to give him a retrospective of the great times of his life during those days. It made all the bad parts of creating the documentary insignificant.
So that was 7 years ago today… Lots of things have happened since…
For my artistic career, I finished my book on the Ducky Boys gang called “Lost Boys of the Bronx – An Oral History of the Ducky Boys Gang” and have started a new (untitled as of now) book about the people who costume. I’ve also managed a rock band, and shot quite a few music videos.
The band Richard and the Young Lions however has seen some roadblocks.
Their CD that Richard had completely finished the vocals of before his passing STILL HAS NOT COME OUT! As of an announcement during the premiere of my documentary, the CD was scheduled to come out in late 2004. Originally I was supposed to release my DVD at the same time as the their CD, but Richard’s passing moved things up a bit.. I’m glad I released it then , because I would still have not released my DVD if I were keeping that schedule!
I don’t know why it hasn’t been released. I do know it went to “Little Steven” Van Zandt shortly after the DVD premiere, and he was going to master it and put together a box-set that would “kick-ass” with RYL’s old songs and their new stuff. But it never materialized.
I wish I knew why it never got released. Apparently Little Steven still has the masters and still promises to release it, but fer chrissake its been 7 years. Shit or get off the pot willya? Its an insult to Richard’s memory not having that CD released yet.
As I wrote that last sentence, maybe that was why the universe chose to remind me that today is the 7 year anniversary of Richard’s death. Maybe if we all start bugging Little Steven, maybe he will finally put out the CD. Hell, I’d rather have a non-mastered version of the CD rather than no CD at all!
For the record, I haven’t talked to the guys in the band in probably about a year at this point. No bad-blood at all, life just kinda works out that way. So if something changed since the last time we spoke, I don’t know about it… Either way, that CD is not out yet, and there is nothing indicating that it will be out anytime soon.
Wow can’t believe how much I typed there. It just started coming out and I couldn’t stop it LOL So I’ll stop here and give you some links:
The long out-of-date Richard and the Young Lions website is
Read more about how Richard touched people’s lives here
The Out of Our Dens Trailer
My Youtube page where you can find more RYL videos (and other stuff of mine)
Pick up a copy of Out of Our Dens on Amazon