Music & Bio

“Richard James Smith: virtuoso, funky, intense and IMMENSE” – Manilla Magazine

Richard James Smith- a guitarist noted for his virtuosic performance of lead, rhythm and bass on the guitar simultaneously. Not being content to be pigeonholed in any one genre, his music weaves influences of Bluesy Rock, Soul, Jazz, with Reggae, World Music, Acoustic and Dance inbetween. Whether touring solo or with his band Row Z, or providing guest appearances on dance tracks for dance legends such as DJ/Producer Matt Darey, his style is instantly recognisable; a powerful, confident performance that has won fans across the world.

Latest Release News

Cover artwork for the 'Green Penny' EP by band Row Z.The GHOSTNOTE label are gearing up to release the exciting new ‘Green Penny’ EP by Richard’s band Row Z.

Featuring the confident, big band juggernaut that is title track ‘Green Penny’, the funky explosion of ‘Arthur’ with Hendrix-inspired soloing, and the silky smooth bluesy embrace that is ‘Blues for Buddha’, it is guaranteed to appeal to the serious groovers out there!
Out soon on GHOSTNOTE.

Influences & Performance

With influences including Clapton, Cream, Hendrix, George Benson, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tommy Emmanuel, Paul McCartney and The Beatles, Richard is inspired by melodic songwriting and world class performances. Richard usually performs on a Gibson Les Paul guitar strung with extremely heavy gauge strings to provide a distinctive bass sound: also when recording for Matt Darey/Urban Astronauts for example, Richard performs on a Fender Stratocaster and a Guild JF30 Acoustic Guitar. A Jim Dunlop ‘Crybaby’ Wah-Wah pedal is mainly used on both recording and live performances, alongside an Ibanez Tubescreamer and a Jim Dunlop Uni-Vibe pedal.


Hearing Hendrix at a young age inspired Richard to pick up a guitar at age 11 and, after performing on a regular basis, at just 17 years old Richard (guitars) was one of the first ever students to enter the famous LIPA Performing Arts School, his induction appearing on live television as part of a live ‘Ferry Across the Mersey’ special with Gerry and the Pacemakers.

Whilst at LIPA, Richard reached the NW finals of ‘Young Jazz Musician of the Year’ hosted by Jools Holland (who described Richard’s performance as ‘…Amazing!’):

During this time Richard also beat 60,000 hopefuls as a finalist of ‘Acoustic Guitarist of the Year’ (performing at Wembley and featuring in ‘Total Guitar’ magazine). After receiving Masterclasses from Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits), Joan Armatrading, Steve Morse (Deep Purple), Yngwie Malmsteen and José Feliciano, Richard had the honour of being awarded his degree by Sir Paul McCartney.

Pulverising! Cocoa Cover. Row Z - 'Stalemate'After his time at LIPA (who noted upon graduation Richard’s status as ‘ outstanding guitarist and performer’) Richard, as part of his jazz/blues outfit Row Z scored a Top 40 German Club Chart hit with the vibrant jazz/ska song ‘Stalemate’ (as part of the Pulverising! Cocoa EP) at respected Stuttgart label Pulver Records. At the same time New York label Turmic Records released smooth bossa nova lounge groover ‘Brassneck’. Both were met with glowing reviews (see here), prompting further songwriting and touring. In the same period Richard appeared as a UK finalist at the Yamaha & Guitarist Magazine Acoustic Guitar competition 2007. Row Z’s first gig was a support slot for world-renowned jazz saxophonist & composer Courtney Pine to a 2,000 strong crowd, at the inaugural concert which officially launched the Southport International Jazz Festival. Later gigs included a double-bill concert with Dennis Rollins (Jamiroquai) and headlining the Cavern Club, Liverpool (audience members including The Beatles first manager Allan Williams who desribed Row Z as a ‘fantastic band’).

Recently Richard’s career has also involved performing and recording all guitars (Rock, Dance, Acoustic and Balearic) for Trance DJ Matt Darey’s singles and albums: this has propelled them into the charts many times, culminating in millions of Youtube hits and a coveted International Beatport Chart #1 hit single with ‘See the Sun’. ‘See the Sun’ promptly flew into the charts at Number 1 staying there for 8 weeks, and was voted into the winning category for ‘Trance Track of the Year’ by millions of fans across the world at the Miami Beatport Music Awards 2010.

Richard also performs all guitar as part of the Urban Astronauts band. Their first music video ‘Animal’ was directed by Hollywood director Mark Anthony Galluzo:

(Galluzo also directed ‘Dance Wiv Me’ the #1 smash by Dizzee Rascal feat. Calvin Harris, and videos from acts such as Nine Inch Nails). ‘Animal’ was filmed at Wilton’s Music Hall- the UK’s oldest Music Hall, also the location for scenes from ‘Interview with the Vampire’ film.

Richard is performing all guitars on the new Matt Darey album ‘Blossom and Decay’ out on Armin Van Buuren’s label ‘Armada’ in 2012 accompanied by a world tour. The release promises to be huge and will spawn many dance compilations, podcasts and remixes.