Rick Laird, prominent Fusion bassist, dies at age 80

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Richard Quentin Laird was born in Dublin on February 5, 1941. His father, William Desmond Laird, a building contractor, was Protestant and his mother, Margaret Muriel (The Gear) Laird, a housewife, was a Roman Catholic; although neither of the parents was particularly religious, their families did not speak to each other. Eventually, the couple split up.

At 16, Rick was sent to live on a sheep farm in New Zealand. Hoping to pursue a career in music, he eventually moved to Sydney, Australia, where he made a name for himself in the jazz scene before moving to London.

There he became the home bassist of Ronnie Scott’s, a premier jazz club that often hosted musicians on international tours, and met some of the world’s most famous jazz talents. He has performed with guitarist Wes Montgomery and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard, and engagements with saxophonists Sonny Rollins and Ben Webster have led to albums with them.

It was a scholarship from Berklee College of Music in Boston that brought Mr. Laird to the United States in 1966. He moved to Los Angeles without a degree and joined drummer Buddy Rich’s band for a year before settling in. At New York. In the early 2000s, he moved to New City, just north of New York City, where he lived until his death. He died in a hospice.

In an interview for Guitar Player magazine in 1980, Mr. Laird spoke of a career as a backing musician.

“If you’re playing a supporting role, instead of constantly playing solo, the chances of becoming well known to the average audience are very slim,” he said. “The more I refine my skills, the less I stand out.

“It’s a paradox, but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t think I need to stroke my ego like that.


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