Richie Powell

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For other people of the same name, see Richard Powell (disambiguation).

Richie Powell (September 5, 1931 – June 26, 1956) was an American bebop jazz pianist. He was born into a musical family in New York City, and was the younger brother of Bud Powell, also a pianist. Although sometimes considered less gifted than his bebop-icon brother, he was a respected musician and was beginning to achieve recognition at the time of his death.[1]

Richie Powell studied at City College of New York. He played in the bands of Paul Williams (1951–52) and Johnny Hodges (1952-54),[2] and from 1954 until his death he was a member of the group co-led by Clifford Brown and Max Roach.

In 1956, after an informal gig at a Philadelphia store called Music City, Powell and Brown were being driven overnight by Powell's wife Nancy to an engagement in Chicago. During the dark rainy night Nancy lost control of the vehicle on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, heading for Cleveland, and in the early hours of 26 June all three occupants were killed.[3]

Max Roach told Ben Sidran in the book Talking Jazz,[4] "When Clifford and Richie were taken away from us in that awful accident, that unfortunate accident that happened, the group still traveled. We had been booked beyond that, so I honored some of those jobs, as much as I could. Of course, it was a traumatic and emotional experience for me. I mean, I was really in never-never land for quite a while."

Pianist McCoy Tyner, who grew up next door to Richie and brother Bud in Philadelphia,[5] purportedly got some of his inspiration to develop his pentatonic chord voicings because he heard Richie voice left-hand chords in fourths.[6]


As sideman[edit]

With Clifford Brown and Max Roach

With Sonny Rollins

With Dinah Washington

With Johnny Hodges


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Richie Powell biography, AllMusic Guide.
  3. ^ "Jazzed in Cleveland", Part Thirty-Seven, a jazz history by Joe Mosbrook, May 12, 1998.
  4. ^ Ben Sidran, "Talking Jazz", 1995:Da Capo Press, p. 231.
  5. ^ "McCoy Tyner: biography" AllMusic. Retrieved April 11, 2013.
  6. ^ "Jazz piano giants: McCoy Tyner" [2] Retrieved April 11, 2013.