Richie Lee

2010 - Spirit Award

Richie Lee has been performing on stages throughout Iowa since 2003.

From Des Moines and the youngest of four boys, Richie was singing almost before he could talk and feeling the beat before he could walk. At the age of 7, he won a Buddy Holly look-a-like/lip sync contest in Des Moines, Iowa sponsored by KJJY Radio. It was then, Richie new that he wanted to be a performer. He loved performing in front of the audience and enjoyed the feeling he got while doing so. Buddy Holly was a big influence, partly because Richie wore glasses since he was 3 and Buddy was a Rock & Roll star with glasses. This was the start of young Richie's musical career.

He began taking guitar lessons at age 11 after his grandmother Edith, convinced his mom and dad to fulfill his need for music, and then started drums at the age of 12. It was just after four months of lessons that Richie started playing guitar in public, and at age 12, he started playing professionally. At age 13, he cut his first CD, “Richie Lee and the Fabulous 50's”.

Richie has performed on stage with Winter Dance Party drummer Carl Bunch, toured with Tommy Allsup, Jerry Naylor, the Tolletts, famed bass player Larry Welborn, Buddy Holly's niece Sherry Holly, Big Bopper Jr. and sang to the legendary "Peggy Sue" Gerron. In 2002 he played with Bobby Vee & the Vee’s. It was in 2004 that Richie and his band were on the same billing as the Crickets.

When 2005 came along, he went to Green Bay, WI and performed a week with Stray Cats' drummer Slim Jim Phantom. By 2006, Richie had finished his second CD “Blue Jeans and a Boy's Shirt.” The main song was written and originally performed by Glen Glenn in 1958, who he met in Green Bay.

Richie has played with many Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame bands & started his own band in 2003 at the age of 13 called “Richie Lee & the Fabulous 50's”. They are constantly touring the Midwest and beyond. He has traveled as far as Massachusetts, Colorado, Texas and Tennessee , just to name a few.

In 2007, Richie got the opportunity to perform in place of Ritchie Valens, when Valens was inducted into the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. The family of Valens were present and they all joined in on "La Bamba". He was presented with a gold record by the Valens family in 2009 at the 50th anniversary in Clear Lake . Richie continues to perform regularly across Iowa and across it’s borders. He supports IRRMA’s mission and has dedicated much time and talent to performing before large, appreciative audiences.

The music of the 1950's is a huge part of Richie's life. Beside Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens, he also pays tribute to Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochran, Ricky Nelson, Roy Orbison, Chuck Berry, Dion Dimucci, and many others. His father is a lyricist, and collaborates with him on new material; an aspect of his career that Richie enjoys immensely.

Because of Richie Lee’s success in keeping rock and roll alive and bringing it to a much younger audience and for his dedication to honoring Iowa’s music makers, he is presented with the 2010 Spirit Award from IRRMA.

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