March 17, 1990 – Ric Grech (Blind Faith) was born Richard Roman Grechko in Bordeaux, France’s famous wine area on November 1st 1946. He was educated at Corpus Christi RC School, Leicester, after attending Sacred Heart Primary School, where he played violin in the school orchestra.
He originally gained notice in the UK as the bass guitar player for the progressive rock group Family. He joined the band when it was a largely blues-based live act in Leicester known as the Farinas. He became their bassist in 1965, replacing Tim Kirchin. Family released their first single, “Scene Through The Eye of a Lens,” in September 1967 on the Liberty label in the UK, which got the band signed to Reprise Records. The group’s 1968 debut album Music in a Doll’s House was an underground hit that highlighted the songwriting talents of Roger Chapman and John “Charlie” Whitney as well as Chapman’s piercing voice, but Grech also stood out with his rhythmic, thundering bass work on songs such as “Old Songs New Songs” and “See Through Windows,” along with his adeptness on cello and violin.
Released in February 1969, Family Entertainment, the group’s second album, was a major turning point for Grech personally. In addition to playing bass and violin, he wrote three of the album’s other songs: “How-Hi-The-Li,” “Face In the Cloud,” and “Second Generation Woman,” which was first released as a single in Britain in November 1968. This song featured Grech on lead vocals, leading Family through a cheeky lyric about a woman who “looks good to handle from a personal angle,” with an arrangement that recalled the Beatles’s “Paperback Writer” and owed an obvious debt to Chuck Berry. Tellingly, however, all of Grech’s songs contained obvious drug references – “How Hi-The-Li” wondered aloud if Chinese premier Chou En-Lai “gets high with all the tea in China” – and drugs would eventually plague Grech throughout his career.
In the spring of 1969, former Cream guitarist Eric Clapton and former Traffic frontman Steve Winwood formed the supergroup Blind Faith; in need of a bassist, they immediately recruited Grech, with whom they’d both jammed when Clapton was in John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Winwood was in the Spencer Davis Group. However, Grech failed to give Chapman and Whitney adequate notice, and Family was due to start a U.S. tour with Ten Years After. Grech agreed to go on the tour until Family could replace him, but he proved to be unreliable when Family played their first American show on 8 April 1969 at the Fillmore East in New York, being so disoriented he could barely play.
Returning to England, Grech recorded with the group the self-titled album, Blind Faith, with Clapton, Winwood, and drummer Ginger Baker, a former bandmate of Clapton’s in Cream. The quartet toured the U.S. to support it. Clapton was disappointed with the quality of the music and the performances, and Blind Faith called it quits. Grech and Winwood stayed with Baker to form Ginger Baker’s Air Force, a “supergroup” which also included Denny Laine (ex-Moody Blues) on guitar, Chris Wood (ex-Traffic) on sax and flute, and several other musicians; when that group ended, Winwood reformed Traffic with original members Wood and Jim Capaldi, and Grech joined as their bassist.
In October 1969, between Blind Faith and Traffic, Grech recorded two tracks for an unfinished solo project, “Spending All My Days” and “Exchange And Mart”. Among the participants in the session was George Harrison. In 1970, he appeared on Graham Bond’s album Holy Magick.
As in Family, Grech lasted two albums with Traffic — Welcome to the Canteen and The Low Spark of High Heeled Boys. Along with drummer Jim Gordon, Grech co-wrote the minor hit “Rock N Roll Stew.” Drugs, however, remained a problem, and Winwood and his bandmates eventually decided they had no alternative but to dismiss him.
Grech remained active in session work, playing with Rod Stewart, Ronnie Lane, Vivian Stanshall and Muddy Waters. He also worked with Rosetta Hightower, the Crickets, Bee Gees and Gram Parsons. In January 1973, he performed in Eric Clapton’s Rainbow Concert, and he reunited with Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney when the duo recorded an album in 1974 after Family’s breakup. Grech was one of many special guests on that record, which led Chapman and Whitney to form the group Streetwalkers. Grech, however, was not in that band.
Grech made at least two reported attempts to start a new rock group in the seventies but both failed. During 1973-74, he played in one of numerous versions of the late Buddy Holly backing band The Crickets.
In 1973 RSO Records released the only album under his own name, credited to “Rick” Grech. The album was titled The Last Five Years. It contained songs that Grech wrote and recorded with Family, Blind Faith, Traffic, Ginger Baker’s Airforce and others between 1968 and 1973.
In 1974, Grech joined KGB. Consisting of Grech on bass, Mike Bloomfield (ex-Paul Butterfield Blues Band and Electric Flag) on guitar, Carmine Appice (ex-Vanilla Fudge, Cactus and Beck, Bogert & Appice) on drums, Barry Goldberg on keyboards, and Ray Kennedy (co-writer of “Sail On, Sailor”) on vocals, the group released its eponymous debut that year. Grech and Bloomfield immediately quit after its release, stating they never had faith in the project. The album was not critically well received.
Grech retired from music in 1977 and moved back to Leicester.
He died on March 17, 1990 of renal failure at the age of 43, the result of alcoholism.