Everyone in Seattle has one or two Richard Peterson stories--he is well known and well loved.
May 3, 2004 11:33 PM   Subscribe

Richard Petersen a Seattle street musician... an emotionally impaired savant with encyclopedic recall who taught himself the trumpet and piano by studying a production LP of musical cues from the obscure early-fifties television show Sea Hunt has been a touchstone in many Seattle lives for years. He has played trumpet outside of concerts, sporting events and blockbuster movie premieres with a can labeled "No Canadian Coins" at his feet for at least three decades. He is ubiquitous--apart from agoraphobics, the bedridden and those chained to a basement wall, everyone in Seattle has one or two Richard Peterson stories: he is well known and well loved. Here, Irwin Chusid, on an Incorrect Music Hour entitled Music everyone at work can agree on, eternally plays--albeit on RA--Peterson's The Enemy (Is on the Radio Singing My Song) and After The Gold Rush from Richard Peterson's First Album. His first album did well--he was big in Japan. He has four albums out. His My Second Album is the hidden song on the Stone Temple Pilots Purple. He has put four albums out. And now there is Big City Dick: Richard Peterson's First Movie--a well received documentary.
posted by y2karl (8 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
This all came about because I told a Richard Peterson story on #mefi and then idly Googled his name. I must here give props to Sans Blog - What's Up With Gina?!? for capturing him so well. I will tell the story in a bit.
posted by y2karl at 11:34 PM on May 3, 2004

Oh, The Enemy was the big band for awhile in the late 70s-early 80s punk scene in Seattle.
posted by y2karl at 11:40 PM on May 3, 2004

everyone in Seattle has one or two Richard Peterson stories: he is well known and well loved.

I've lived in Seattle for 7 years and never heard of or seen this guy before. But hey, you learn something new every day. Maybe I need to hang out in more lines for big events.
posted by falconred at 8:33 AM on May 4, 2004

Thanks for post. Good stuff. Does anyone have any links to some of his music?
posted by internal at 8:59 AM on May 4, 2004

There are the two songs available in RealAudio at the Music everyone at work can agree on link, internal--or right here on tracks 10 & 11. If you don't have RealAudio, save yourself headaches by skipping getting the evil RealOne Player and downloading the equally free RealAlternative Media Classic Player instead.

He doesn't play that much in the street anymore, I suppose, falconred. I remember him quite well--but then I've lived in Seattle for maybe thirty years longer than you. My concept of everyone in Seattle is different than yours. A mere seven years residency=tourist to me. ;)
posted by y2karl at 9:32 AM on May 4, 2004


falconred, Richard retired from busking about ten years ago. Dave Mienert (sp?) gave him a part-time gig at Moe's when it opened (now, after many rotations, Neumo's), playing piano during happy hour a few days a week. He is pretty good, but the ladies find him a bit creepy.

If you live on the Hill, you can sometimes see him walking up over the Olive overpass. He's a squattish fellow with a resemblance to Curly, and will invarizbly be wearing a suit with a blue tie, which he referes to as his "Elephant Tie," and which appears to carry some sort of phallic significance; it's about ten feet onlg and he keeps it tucked into his pants.

He has an encyclopedic knowledge of downtown business locations by building and floor, which is part of what makes a conversation with him unsettling.

poor don't walk light...
posted by mwhybark at 4:44 PM on May 4, 2004

You can hear Richard almost every day, entertaining the masses on KQBZ in Seattle. He's a frequent guest on the Robin and Maynard show.
posted by shinybeast at 8:39 PM on May 4, 2004

See, this is why spelling is important, kids. Is the guy's last name "Peterson", "Petersen", or "Pedersen"? Otherwise, I'll be Googling forever.
posted by Sidhedevil at 9:39 AM on May 5, 2004

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