June 15, 2007 – Richard Bell was born in Toronto, Canada on March 5, 1946. The son of famous Canadian composer and musician Dr. Leslie Bell, he began piano lessons at the age of 4, and studied at Canada’s Royal Conservatory of Music. Later he also learned to play the organ, saxophone, and accordion, and composed music.
Bell’s career first gained significance when he joined Ronnie Hawkins as a member of the group And Many Others, following the departure of Hawkins’s previous band (who would gain fame as the Band). Hawkins fired the entire band in early 1970, and they renamed themselves Crowbar, subsequently recording Official Music (as King Biscuit Boy with Crowbar) (1970, Daffodil; 1996, Stony Plain). Bell left Crowbar shortly after this to join Janis Joplin’s Full Tilt Boogie Band, making good on an offer made the previous year when while on tour in New York, he was contacted by Michael Friedman, an associate of Janis Joplin’s manager Albert Grossman.