The founder of music publisher TRO, The Richmond Organization, "contributed mightily and without fanfare to the music business for nearly three quarters of a century," family friend and former employee Michael Sigman, the former LA Weekly publisher, writes at the Huffington Post.
My dad, songwriter Carl Sigman, gave Howie his first hit and Howie gave me my first job: helping to catalogue the massive piles of reel-to-reel tapes in the library of TRO, the music publishing powerhouse he founded in 1949. It was a job I would have gladly paid to do; I knew a little about Guthrie, Seeger and Lead Belly, but here were hundreds and hundreds of songs about the great issues of the day and the smallest, most playful human experiences.
And those heroes were just a part of what Howie and his colleagues had built. I heard incredible songs by Pete Townshend, Tony Newley and Leslie Bricusse, Charles Aznavour, Lionel Bart, Lonnie Donegan and Shel Silverstein.
I got to brag to my high school friends about two brand new songs that would blow their minds -- "Paper Sun" and "See Emily Play," from Traffic and Pink Floyd, respectively.
The Sigmans and the Richmonds grew up together on Long Island; my folks were close with Howie and his wife Anita, a brilliant liberal activist; my brothers and I went to the same summer camp as the Richmond kids; we all took a Florida vacation together. During the '70s, the two couples bought houses in the same cul-de-sac in Rancho Mirage, CA, between Frank Sinatra Drive and Bob Hope Drive. Howie's "uncle" Abe Olman -- a music biz legend in his own right and one of Howie's original partners (the other was the great Ali Brackman ) -- lived in the house between the Sigmans and the Richmonds. As my mom would say, "There was nary a civilian in sight."
Songs in the TRO catalogue, Sigman says, include"This Land Is Your Land," "If I Had A Hammer," "We Shall Overcome." " Goodnight, Irene," "Tom Dooley," "Who Can I Turn To," "Fly Me To The Moon," "My Generation," "Space Oddity," "Whiter Shade Of Pale," and "Get It On (Bang A Gong." Richman died May 20 in Rancho Mirage.
He was "among the last of a Runyonesque breed that was long a vital if largely unheralded segment of the music business," the New York Times obit says. Richmond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1983.