Memphis/Ardent/Big Star pal Richard Rosebrough R.I.P.

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Latest in a string of deeply-felt Memphian losses…

By Fred Mills

His name is Richard Rosebrough and although it’s not a household name, anybody with even a passing knowledge of the Memphis pop and rock scene that included Ardent Studio and, of course, Big Star, knows of his talents and his legacy. The 66-year-old drummer, engineer and all-around good guy passed away earlier this week, Oct. 18, of causes not yet disclosed, reports Memphis daily paper The Commercial Appeal, although it is known that he “had been battling various health issues.” It’s been a tough year or so for the Memphis music community, having lost both Ardent owner John Fry in December of 2014 and Grammy-winning engineer/producer John Hampton that same month, and Rosebrough’s passing hits equally hard, known as “a gifted session player and studio hand” and “one of the key cogs in the Ardent Machine” during the 1968-76 era, which of course includes appearances on Big Star’s 1974 classic Radio City.

Big Star drummer and Ardent mainman Jody Stephens, quoted in the obituary, noted, “I was always a little in awe of his drumming; he was that good. He not only played to serve the song, but to give the song mood and emotion. That’s what we all aspired to … Richard always got there. As a drummer, he was a guy who could conjure emotion with his playing like nobody else that I know.”

Among Rosebrough’s efforts beyond Big Star, Chris Bell and Alex Chilton records, were work with the Cramps, John Prine, Tony Joe White, Ry Cooder, Black Oak Arkansas, Little Milton, Jason and the Scorchers and Johnny Hallyday. Below, watch a particularly Memphizoid moment that Rosebrough participated in circa ’92 or ’94. Just ain’t nothin’ like a Memphis thang, folks…


Memorial services at the Memorial Park Funeral Home, 5668 Poplar Avenue in Memphis on Saturday, Oct. 24. Visitation starts at 10 a.m. with a graveside service scheduled for noon.

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