Rick Kennell began his musical career in Indiana at a young age playing alto sax, but not really feeling it. He discovered his first love – bass guitar at twelve – and he was in a band and starting rehearsals the day his first bass arrived in the mail. After performing in a variety of local bands during his high school days, Rick found himself in the US Army in early 1972. While serving in a Military Police unit in Germany, Rick hooked up with guitarist and Army brat Stan Whitaker and went on to record, perform and produce with the legendary art-rock group “Happy the Man”. The band was pursued by Peter Gabriel, soon after he left “Genesis.” They had a long day of fun with Gabriel in their rehearsal room but eventually signed to Arista – and recorded two critically acclaimed projects produced by Ken Scott. A wacky and stubborn art-rock sensibility, a lack of radio friendly material, an absence of compatible touring opportunities, and the dramatic musical shift to disco and punk sealed “Happy the Man’s” fate in 1979 – resulting in the breakup of the band.
In late 1979, Rick moved from the Washington D.C. area and began performing in an original rock band near Woodstock, New York, named “Vision” with Stan Whitaker. The band – signed to a production deal by Eddie Kramer (Hendrix/Zeppelin) was unable to secure a recording contract. After an unsuccessful showcase for a number of labels, Rick lost interest and resigned from the project as he watched the band deteriorate into a cover band. Rick went on to produce and engineer several recording ventures – including a project with former Happy the Man singer Dan Owen. He also demoed another project which was signed to Atlantic Records. In early 1985, after an extended production stint in San Francisco – Rick moved back to upstate New York and took a job managing a noted recording studio. However, he soon realized it wasn’t for him – and he moved closer to New York City to pursue other interests.
Later that year, Rick began outfitting his project studio and for a couple of years became a road warrior, working as a “live” sound engineer and road manager for several rock and dance projects based in New York, Connecticut and Miami. However, disenchanted with his production career and growing tired of all the travel – Rick began pursuing artist management and business management for some of his friends and some ex-band mates. In 1986 Rick linked up with Lawrence Blau & Associates, and decided to focus entirely on business management. They began marketing their services to the industry and landed a small but diverse stable of music companies, bands and solo artists. Rick worked his way up to partner in 1990. However, in 1994 Rick decided to pursue his own business and eventually established the Indie Financial network so he could devote a portion of his time exclusively to his music business clients and their diverse activities.
Since a Happy the Man reunion seemed unlikely, Rick recruited Ron and Stan in the late ’90’s to play on a project he produced by composer/pianist/floral artist Leah Waybright called “Beauty Gone Wild.” However, much to his delight, in 1999, Happy the Man did reunite for a headlining show at Nearfest which led to a new disc and more “live” dates. But keeping the fire burning proved to be far too difficult – there was too much distance and disagreement between the members – and the capital needed to jump-start the venture properly – simply wasn’t available.
Since the end of 2013 Rick has become a featured writer for “More Sugar” – New York’s outstanding and comprehensive monthly entertainment paper. After a break, Rick finally has his home studio upgraded, re-assembled and ready to rock. He is currently getting his feet wet on a few tunes – tunes he just has to get out of his head. No promises, but some of Rick’s and more of Leah’s music could be forthcoming.
Visit Rick online