Digby George Richards was born on 12th September 1941. His father, Gordon was a tough, mounted policeman and the family was then stationed in Dunedoo, in far-west New South Wales. When Digby was about five, the Richards family, now including another son, Doug, moved to Narooma, where he started, and finished, school. Doug was rummaging through the back shed of the family home and found an old guitar. He learned to play it, and encouraged Dig to do likewise. Upon finishing school, Dig packed his bags for Sydney and started work as a junior manager at Walton’s department store in the inner-city.
Jon Hayton, already an accomplished guitar player, was in a music store, and happened upon Dig strumming a guitar, and mumbling through a song. Jon was instantly attracted to Dig's rockabilly style and good looks, and asked him to sing lead vocals in his band, the Red Jeans. The name slowly morphed from Red Jeans to R’Jays. With primitive electric instruments and sound equipment - their bass player played tea chest bass - they played their first dance in August 1958. Dig Richards and the R'Jays stood out from the crowd. More importantly they caught the eye of John Laws radio announcer. Early in 1959, after some line-up changes and now boasting an electric bass guitarist, the group approached Festival Records for an audition.
They were granted an audition. The group performed their entire repertoire but failed to make the desired impression. As a last resort Dig began singing a song his 15 year old brother Doug had partly written. Ken Taylor liked it enough for 'I Wanna Love You' to be released as Dig Richard's first single in July, backed by 'Kansas City'. The R'Jays in the meantime became Festival's house band.
Dig Richards and the R'Jays were the first group to play live on Brian Henderson's Bandstand, and became regulars on both Bandstand and the Johnny O'Keefe compared 'Six O’clock Rock'. By August 1959 he had his own TV show, 'Teentime' on the 7 Network, broadcast live to air for the next two years, as in concert Richards and group joined Lee Gordon's Big Shows, alongside Crash Craddock, Lloyd Price and Rick Nelson.
Richards and the R'Jays parted company in 1962. In 1964 the R'Jays became the Rajahs. Dig Richards had continued his solo recording career. Keen on becoming an all-round performer, he learned to play the guitar finger-style and took vocal lessons at Sydney's Conservatorium Of Music. In 1963 he made his debut as an adult entertainer at Sydney's Spellsons nightclub. In 1964 he compared his own TV show, 'Dig Richards' Ampol Show' By now he had shifted musical emphasis to slower, country-ish material, developing his own song writing. As well as playing nightclubs and RSLs he toured South East Asia.
Digby Richards continued to record and perform throughout the 70s, with a new record contract with RCA, technically making him label-mates with Elvis and Johnny Cash. Dig began looking and dressing like a younger man than he had in his twenties, growing his hair, as was the style de jour, and in retrospect began to look like a young and un-silver Charlie Rich.
In 1970 he travelled to England and spent a year there writing songs, coming back to record his first album in Australia: Harlequin, in 1972. The album was received to great acclaim, and produced the hit A Little Piece Of Peace, his first song to chart since Raincoat In The River in 1963.
He was heading in the direction that he would head-in for the rest of his life. Writing beautiful, meaningful lyrics, and developing a country/rock sound.
By mid-1982, Dig had been diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer, and was given six months to live. According to Leon Isackson, he took it in his stride, and accepted with grace and dignity his fate. Receiving treatment at North Shore hospital, in Sydney, his friends rallied around, but watched him growing sicker by the day.
In early 1983, a tribute concert was organised. Col Joye, the R'Jays, his brother Doug Richards and a host of others paid a musical tribute to him. By all indications it was a celebration not a service with mourning.
On February 28 1983, the word lost Dig. His death came as a sad loss to Australian rock'n'roll fans, and the industry...
The above information and more can be found at this site (click link):
Here for download is "Love Me Tender" a rare 1978 track from RCA courtesy of Jimmy Barnes a regular contributor...