Dal Richards – In Memorium

The Last of the Originals! Dal Richards

Dal was the last of the original members of the Kitsilano Boys Band. He joined the band in 1933 along with two of his buddies Jack Bensted and Harry Bigsby. All three played clarinet in William Hoskin Sara’s National Juvenile band but when word got out that some guy in Kitsilano who played trumpet in vaudeville was starting a travelin band and was taking his band to the Chicago World’s Fair they quit the National Juvenile Band and joined this new band in Kitsilano along with so many others. “How can he get us to Chicago in the height of the depression?” said Jack one day. To which Dal replied, “If Mr. Delamont says he can, I believe him.” They made it to Chicago that summer. Boy, did they make it to Chicago. They won the Junior Band Championship of the world. When they were not performing Dal and Jack would sneak into one of the hotels which had all booked big bands for the duration of the Fair. The hotels hadn’t counted on the people at the Fair being too tired to come out after a day at the Fair which was good for Dal and Jack because they would tip the waiter $5 and get a ringside seat to listen to the band for the evening. Thus started Dal’s lifetime love affair with big band music. Some of the bands they heard were Clyde McCoy, Art Kassel and his Kassels-in-the-air, Johnny Hamp and Cab Calloway. In Chicago they stayed in a hotel which had once been owned by Al Capone. There was a shooting gallery on the top floor where dummy cops popped up. When it was all over Dal asked Mr. Delamont what was next? Without missing a beat he said, “Why England of course,” and walked off. “How can he get us to England in the depression,” said Jack. “He got us to Chicago didn’t he,” replied Dal. “If he says he will get us to England he will.” Well, he got the boys to England the following summer and they beat 14 of England’s finest adult bands in Bugle at the West of England Music Festival. Two years later in 1936, they returned to England with the best version of the Kitsilano Boys Band musically speaking that was ever assembled. They took the Crystal Palace by storm beating 35 of England’s best adult bands to take home the Cassell’s Challenge Shield. Most of the Originals including Dal left the band after that summer. There was nothing left to accomplish for them. They had marched their way through the provincial, national and world band championships and gone on to England to beat the best they had. Several formed the nucleus of the first RCMP Band in 1938. Many of the Originals went back to England during the war and flew Spitfires and Lancasters in the skies above and paid the supreme sacrifice. Dal went on to a lifetime in music and played 79 New Years Eve shows here in Vancouver. He departed this earth at 18 minutes to midnight last night, New Years Eve. I suspect he was on his way to his 80th New Years Eve gig in the greatest band of all, a Band of Angels made up of the original members of the Kitsilano Boys Band. I can hear them now. “Dal, where have you been?” “We thought you were never coming.” “I was having too good of a time, boys. They all love me down there.” “We all love you too Dal.” “I’m here now.” “Dal what are we going to play?” Lets get this show on the road with ‘And the Angels Sing,’ 1-2-3-4!” What a bash that must have been! I have a feeling that earthquake the other night was just them getting ready for Dal’s arrival!