At 97 years old, the man who for many years helped Vancouverites ring in the New Year passed away just minutes before midnight on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 2015. Dal Richards was scheduled to play at the party at Hotel Vancouver where he had performed from 1940 to 1965, but he had to cancel 2015’s show due to illness in November. Over nearly 80-years, Richards played New Year’s Eve parties at a number of hotels and venues throughout the metropolitan area.
Dal had also served as musical director for the BC Lions’ half-time shows. He received the Order of Canada in 1994. Richards started music to soothe his grief after losing an eye in a slingshot accident when he was 9 years old. The injury disqualified him for service during World War II which channelled his energies into a professional music career. When swing and big band jazz fell out of fashion in the mid-1960s, Dal went into hotel management keeping his band going as a side project performing at business conventions, birthdays, and weddings. When things picked up again in the early 80s, Richards began to make records.
Just prior to New Year’s Eve 2015, a hospitalized Dal donned a tux and joined his band at the Vancouver Club’s Christmas party. He sang, “As Time Goes By”.
Dal Richards passed away at 11:41 p.m. on December 31, 2015.