90-year-old violinist recorded with big names in rock, country music

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Vern Richardson recently spoke about his latest book at Blue Bell Place, the senior community he calls home.

The book is titled “Far…Beyond the Starry Sky”, and it is an autobiographical account of his life that shares personal and professional moments.

“I can’t think of a time when I wasn’t interested in music,” says Richardson.

He has a classical training in violin and holds degrees in music and music education.

Richardson says he still practices every day for at least an hour and plays a lot of classical music, including concertos by Bach, Brahms, Beethoven and Mozart.

Throughout his career he taught at university and performed.

Richardson says that while he performed in the Nashville Symphony, he also gave solo recitals “everywhere” to build his musical reputation.

His talent was noticed and he was called by an entrepreneur looking for strings to play and record with a then unknown artist.

“No one had ever heard of Roy Orbison at that time, and certainly no one had ever heard of ‘Only the Lonely,'” says Richardson.

“We thought, ‘oh, this thing isn’t going to sell a dozen copies,'” he says. “Within two weeks the thing had sold a million copies and Roy Orbison was a household name.”

The group of musicians who performed with Orbison on this single were frequently called upon, and Richardson says his career “grew from there”.

He estimates that he has participated in 725 recording sessions as a fiddler, performing with some of country music’s greats. He played on albums for Eddy Arnold and Patsy Cline. He has also worked with big names in rock and roll, like Connie Francis.

Richardson says he enjoyed his time with these artists and still enjoys performing solo.

“I just like having the feel of the violin under my chin and just knowing that I can actually handle that bow and make a good sound out of that instrument — that’s that basic,” he says.

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