Few Adirondack musicians have covered as much ground in the entertainment world as Clarence “Daddy Dick” Richards (1918-2000) of Corinth . Richards was a master entertainer who, over the course of a seventy-year career, served as old-time fiddler, singing dance caller, country guitarist, concert attraction, movie actor, string bass player for commercial musicians, raconteur, recording artist, radio personality, early television star and probably more.
Daddy Dick got his start in music very early in life; he remembered falling asleep night after night to the sound of the fiddle and accordion as played by his relatives, his parents and their friends. His father was a woodsman and fiddler, and his mother sang; both performed in vaudeville. His grandmother was a full-blooded Mohawk Indian.
Richards started playing the harmonica at age five, and ukulele (“tuned fiddle-style”) at nine. By age twelve he had picked up the fiddle, playing for local dances and substituting for the caller when necessary. Known early as a "song sponge," he is said also to have had nearly 3,000 tunes in his repertoire. As a boy he met the radio personality Bradley Kincaid who had a summer home near Saratoga, and often traded songs with him--for chickens!
Early in his music career, he lost his left hand in a paper mill accident, but within six months he had discovered a way to continue playing the fiddle. "Daddy Dick" was an early entertainer on radio and television, a regular at area dude ranches, and an occasional movie actor. Over his long career he also performed with many prominent country and bluegrass music stars. For years, Dick was Frontier Town's “Davy Crockett,” and later performed with his own sons Bill and Jack as “The Richards Brothers and Daddy Dick.” Jack Richards continues to perform as a musical entertainer, and Jack’s daughter Heather Richards--Daddy Dick’s granddaughter--is also a country music artist, carrying on the family musical heritage.
In his last years, Daddy Dick was a member of the Adirondack Liars Club, where he was featured as a premier storyteller of tales both tall and true.