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Published: 2010/08/12

Little Feat’s Richie Hayward: 1946-2010

Little Feat co-founder Richie Hayward has died after a long battle with liver disease. He was 64.

Hayward played drums in the seminal band throughout its entire career. In the late 1960s he played with original Little Feat frontman Lowell George in the band’s precursor The Factory. George and Hayward co-founded Little Feat in 1969 along with Bill Payne and Roy Estrada. They established a distinctive style of improvisational southern rock that mixed elements of blues, rock boogie and funk. Little Feat went on hiatus in 1978 and officially parted ways a year later after George died of an accidental overdose. Hayward helped reform the band in 1987 and continued to play with the group until last year when health concerns prevented him touring. Hayward lived in British Columbia at the time of his death.

“We saw him just recently,” longtime Little Feat member Paul Barrere said in a recent interview. “We played up in his hometown of Comox, British Columbia. He looked surprisingly well. Thinner, but he didn’t look emaciated in any way. He gets fatigued fairly easily. He had a recent CAT scan of his liver, and they are waiting on the results of that to see if they will put him on the transplant list. His residency has been established, so I believe he is eligible for the NHS [National Health Service], which is wonderful. When he saw us, he was in great spirits. I talked to him a couple of days ago and he said he misses us already. He’s such a fighter. Richie’s amazing. If a cat has nine lives, Richie’s got 18.”

Hayward was also an accomplished sideman and played on recordings by such diverse artists as Eric Clapton, Warren Zevon, Travis Tritt, Robert Palmer, Tom Waits, Taj Mahal, Barbra Streisand, John Cale, Buddy Guy, Arlo Guthrie, Carly Simon, Bob Seger and many others. Hayward and Little Feat also collaborated with a new generation of jammers in the ’90s and ’00s, including Jimmy Herring, Bela Fleck, String Cheese Incident, Leftover Salmon and Warren Haynes. The band’s association with Phil Lesh & Friends and cover of Phish’s “Sample in a Jar” also brought an element of improvisation back into the group’s live sound. In addition, he played in the jamband all-star band Justice League with Herring, T. Lavitz and and Adam Nitty.

Many musicians, ranging from the members of Leftover Salmon to Little Feat, played benefit shows for Hayward in the past year. He had no insurance at the time his condition was diagnosed. Fab Faux guitarist Jimmy Vivino also saluted the musician from the stage with Gov’t Mule at New York’s Central Park SummerStage last night.

His last public performance was a sit in with Little Feat at the Vancouver Island MusicFest on July 11, 2010.


There are 50 comments associated with this post

Hutch May 16, 2011, 22:16:01

From one drummer to another, I borrowed what I could and stole the rest, Thanks Richie

john kelby September 2, 2011, 06:00:20

Rest in peace.
Your music will live on.
You will be remembered in our hearts
john kelby

Robbert December 26, 2011, 05:58:50

I just learned today Richie Hayward died last year. Shame on me. Lost track of the band when frontman Lowell George died. Saw the band live in1976 in Rotterdam Holland, when I was an 18 year old kid. Little feat made a deep impact on me, particularly because of its great rythm section with Richie Hayward in its middle. Richie Haywards death is a great loss. He should be placed in the music Hall of Fame!
Robbert Netherlands.

Robbert December 26, 2011, 06:02:02

I just learned today Richie Hayward died last year. Shame on me. Lost track of the band when frontman Lowell George died. Saw the band live in1976 in Rotterdam Holland, when I was an 18 year old kid. Little feat made a deep impact on me, particularly because of its great rythm section with Richie Hayward in its middle. Richie Haywards death is a great loss. He should be placed in the music Hall of Fame!
Robbert Netherlands.

don kehoe August 24, 2010, 22:30:29

Richie was really great with the fans. He’d crack jokes with you just like you were a high school friend.

G August 13, 2010, 03:02:34

You were the man, Richie. Thanks.

Walter Trout August 13, 2010, 03:12:02

Richie was truly a genius! A creative drummer who always took the energy level through the roof when he played, a loving spirit and a dear friend who I had the honor of working with on many occasions, I am devastated that Richie is gone. He will be missed by all who knew him. Play on, Richie – play on through the darkest night! I know you are now in a place where there are NO more bad news.

Jimmy Dotes August 13, 2010, 03:12:34

Thanks for the music.

Kirk Lorange August 13, 2010, 03:45:43

We’re all gonna miss you, Richie. Nobody did it like you.

Wndv August 13, 2010, 04:03:18

Your music will always put a smile on my face. Thank you, thank you so much…

JCarb August 13, 2010, 04:22:53

What a band…(Little Feat)...What a man!

george mattesini August 13, 2010, 04:47:07

followed feats since the start ,night to night like a dead head and loved that second line funk and all the other projects joan armatrading at central park way back chicken legs after feats and many more the lowell forum tribute show in la nyc last year a big loss to civilisation and on records wow robert palmer sneaking sally through the alley parade beat in heaven tonight

Arby Jones August 13, 2010, 05:24:22

I first saw the Feats in August of ’72, and became a “major fan” immediately. Richie’s skill on traps was one of the main reasons why that band cooked the way it did. Aloha ‘oe, Richie – farewell to thee, until we meet again…

AnacapaBob August 13, 2010, 05:35:56

From those early days in Venice…on and on…ya never failed to rock us… “the beat goes on” ...your beat, Richie!

phoenix August 13, 2010, 06:41:53

Too young Ritchie but you and Little Feat made(make) the World a better place… the music , bought the vinyl. Salut! aberdeen, scotland x

Andy Peake August 13, 2010, 07:09:58

Richie Hayward. A genius who flew “Under the Radar” for so long. Not for me though. I have every Feat album and can remember standing in the audience in tears of joy while watching Little Feat at Mackie Auditorium in Boulder Colorado during the tour that was to become “Waiting for Columbus.” When people ask me sometimes now what was my favorite concert ever, too few would even know what I was describing when I would tell them about that night. He inspired me in so many ways. Thanks to the creator for putting Richie Hayward on our planet.

dyulyur August 13, 2010, 08:17:20

It is terrible tragedy that Richie Hayward has passed away. You can help remember him by contributing to his memorial website at

Paul Tanner August 13, 2010, 09:40:15

As Peter Wolf has sung,another good one is gone…Time Loves A Hero…Little Feat put us in SOCAL on the map…every band from Sublime to the Rolling Stones embraced the creativity of all the memebers of this classic band.My deepest sympathy for his family and the so called “music” world….whatever that is these days.Sincerely,Paul.

Marcel de Groot August 13, 2010, 11:42:15

Richie lives on through all of us who love his music.
He made my life a bit prettier.

Roger Earl August 13, 2010, 11:56:51

I sadly just heard that Richie
Hayward passed away. I’ve done
lots of shows with Little Feat and got to see, play with and hang with Richie. He was one of those drummers who could truly be called innovative. And so genuinely unassuming…I don’t
think he realized the huge impact he had on so many of us. He was a 223one-off. There was nobody else like him. I’ll miss him.- Roger Earl

Glen C August 13, 2010, 12:13:45

Greetings from London England. This is very, very sad to hear. He was one cool cat and I had the pleasure of seeing him in the Lowell period Feat a bunch of times in the UK the 70’s – he was the best drummer I ever saw bar none. Hope he and Lowell are working up a storm together right now xx

Paul August 13, 2010, 13:25:37

Terrible news. I’m at Cropredy Festivql in Oxfordshire, England ad looking forward to seeing the Feat tonight. I hope they still play and dedicate to Richie. I’ll understand if they pull out as a mark of respect though.

Adam August 13, 2010, 13:26:19

Today is the day to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Richie Hayward. He was a great inspiration and personality! Hes now joined the band of Lowell, Jerry, Jimi, Manuel and Danko and all the other past greats! Rejoice Richie! Play me a sweet “On Your Way Down”! Long live Richie Hayward! Maybe write a new song with Lowell while you get settled in…RIP brother.

Jared August 13, 2010, 14:06:32

I was a latecomer to the Little Feat party, having been just a wee sprout when Lowell passed. But I saw them seven times after the reunion in 1988, and Richie never failed to inspire me. His second-line rhythms and innovative style never failed to put a smile on my face and a tap in my foot. God bless you Richie— the likes of you will never pass this way again.

Bob Girouard August 13, 2010, 14:11:51

We’ve lost a giant… undisputed drum-brother, a true master of the instrument…..and a man who epitomized the word “soul”, both as a player and a person. There’s a void here that can only be usurped by the fact that up in heaven right about now…..he’s sitting on his drums… slappin’, kickin’, splashin’ and layin’ down a groove wider than the Mississippi River. I guess Lowell George put in a special order for the only man who could do the job. Richie Hayward, you were one of a kind…..on behalf of anyone whoever picked up a pair of sticks…we owe you, we love you, and you’ll not be forgotten. -Bob Girouard

Jack August 13, 2010, 14:17:28

He was the most important Foot because SOMEONE had to keep the beat – shoot, FIND the beat in those crazy time signatures the Feat loved in order for the whole damn bowl to roll. As the Feat lurched from one time sig to another, the car jerked and died and came back to life with lowell shouting instructions and one dude behind the wheel. That was Richie, as the motor roared once again, gettin’ it on down the road.

Aron Nacman August 13, 2010, 14:32:18

To the rock and roll doctor, thanks for the solid music that I enjoy so much. As a drummer, one of the best ever, thanks for the great ideas and groove. Peace.

Ben August 13, 2010, 14:47:55

RIP Richie. An inspirational musician. August 13, 2010, 15:28:58

two degrees in bebop
a phd in swing
he’s a master of rhythm
he’s a rock and roll king thank you richie

Ted Alvy August 13, 2010, 15:39:07

Richie Hayward was a man of few words on stage who spoke miles of rainbows with his unique beat on life. RIP. Rhythm In Peace. TO NEON PARK by Richie Hayward Your gift of expression,
love of life, subtle wit
humorous spirituality
and gentle ways
I shall never forget. God keep you my friend,
you are free. I will miss you. Dear Richie Hayward: Although I only met you through your music, may I speak your kind words about Marty back at you with joy. Peace, Ted Alvy Linda (Gibbon) Bangham published this Tribute by Richie Hayward to Neon Park (Martin Muller) after Marty passed away on September 1, 1993 [FEATPRINTS #9 Winter 1993-1994] (This issue is dedicated to Neon Park, long may he live in our visions) end

Joe August 13, 2010, 15:54:04

Play on drummer….RIP

Joann August 13, 2010, 16:10:18

It’s a mercenary territory. Thanks for the sticks. I’ll treasure them forever.

Val August 13, 2010, 16:19:31

Rest In Peace. Love me some Little Feat.

Mark August 13, 2010, 16:54:29

Richie was the 2nd most important element of the Feat’s sound, next to Lowell and the slide. He brought the New Orleans syncopated funk (see “Fatman In The Bathtub”) that gave the band their unique take on rhythm. RIP Richie.

Josh August 13, 2010, 18:50:23

I last saw Little Feat in London in 1975.Tomorrow I am going to see them again in Holmfirth.
Richie contributed to one of the best bands around in a big way.Rock on

mary ann August 13, 2010, 19:36:07

I was enraptured by the music of “the feat”...for over 30 yrs. To this very day, i cannot sit still when i hear skin it back, spanish moon, and rockn’roll doctor. Seeing them live 4 times was the height of my concert career I am so saddened, by Richie’s passing, but his suffering is over….I am sure he and Lowell are already jammin. Bless you dear man, and your bereived family, may you all fund peace. Thanks SO much for the music!!!~~

Olie August 13, 2010, 21:37:33

OUCH! R.H…without doubt the most entertaining drummer I have ever seen perform and heard on record.

Tim August 13, 2010, 21:40:50

You will be surely missed… Thanks for all the great music through the years…

kid peavey August 13, 2010, 23:58:07

damn…we,as in all of us in little feat of universe,are feeling the blow of losing RH.being from a small town in the american south,little feat shaped our days,and ruled our nights.wish i had dollar for every time cruising,midnight dash board lights,crickets on summer evenings,hugh bonfires on winter dirt roads….all with little feat and richie never beyond reach.

mitch from brooklyn August 14, 2010, 00:48:29

i was honored and surprised to see and hear the great richie hayward with the bob dylan band twice in chicago 2005. what a treat! it brought an originality to an already great band that does sound the same too often. to bad bob didn,t use his great talant to greater length. r.i.p

carol s August 14, 2010, 02:06:59

Goddess wing you back to Lowell. Play again.

Michael J August 14, 2010, 04:29:43

Richard Hayward died yesterday. After a long struggle with an uncooperative liver, he finally passed away. Although Little Feat replaced him on the road over a year ago with a very able-bodied younger version, in fact Richie’s drum tech for several years, Richie’s gone. And so is an era. As I did when Lowell died, I cried. The world has lost an amazing drummer and a really fine human being. I was holding tickets to a Lowell solo show in San Francisco two weeks away when word come out that he had “hit the wall” after a performance. Too much partying, too little sleep, too much weight. His heart couldn’t stand the stress, nor the toll of the lifestyle. Rock and roll hours, early graves w/o flowers…. Now Richie. I heard about it just tonight. Put on the Dixie Chicken CD, and tears in my eyes, remembered the first time I heard this amazing anchor of a rhythm section. It was 1972, Athens Ohio, walking into the rural house on the other side of the train tracks where members of the band I was working with lived. I was their sound guy and a college sophomore, but I had pulled some strings to get them into the University’s radio station studio to record some of their songs. When I walked into the band’s house, this totally different music was playing. Wow. On the stereo were these songs, this very different band, this amalgam of funky R&B meets Cajun meets rock. The slide guitar. The haunting voice. The absolutely amazing groove that the rhythm section laid down. It spoke to my sense of I’ve never heard this style, this, this feel before. (As Van Dyke Parks allegedly had said, it was “White boys got the woo woos”). Maybe it was the depth of emotion that came through loud and insistent, or maybe – no definitely – it was the syncopated beat, the drumming that forced its own melody, its own feel, toying with the two and the four, lagging the square, digging a groove deeper than any music I’d heard before in my wasted suburban radio past. I was hooked. I played the shit out of Dixie Chicken through my college years on my 35 watt Kenwood/KLH dorm room stereo, until I wore the needle out. I explored, discovering the earlier albums, all two of them. Later, in the Eighties, as the manager of a pro audio dealer in Oakland, Dixie Chicken was the first CD I bought after I’d won a first generation TEAC CD player from the TASCAM factory rep for selling the most multi-track studio recorders. There were drum inflections and nuances on that digital disc I’d never heard before. It just kept getting better. (Interstitial: Tonight, as a nice Midwest thunderstorm booms in the background and the rain plays its rhythmic melodies on the gutter drains, I listen to my all time favorite album for maybe the thousandth time. Reflecting. I look at my six-foot wide CD rack, all 1000 or so jewel case-worth, and a full row is taken up by Little Feat releases. Studio productions. Demos. Live albums. Special versions. Basement tapes. You might say I’m a fan. There has never been another band that has spoken to my sense of musical propriety more than this one. It’s like it’s woven into my genes. More than in the blood. I love these guys. I am a hobby guitarist, a closet player, some parts on various albums, and more than a little influence has sourced from their wellspring). I first met Richie at a Chicago concert, in some little theater in Lincoln Park. Must have been 1988. I was the national pro-audio product manager for Electro-Voice’s touring concert systems, really big speaker stacks that hang from the scaffolds and break the noise ordinances three miles away. You’ve heard them, whether you know it or not. I was based out of SW Michigan. I had heard they were playing, drove in, and talked my way into the backstage production door. It was four in the afternoon, and the band was in the middle of their sound check. I hung out, listening to the band walk through parts of numbers, barking instruction to the monitor mixer, getting the tech down before the show. Not a scene I was unfamiliar with. It was a typically fantastic show. Afterwards, I managed to score an after-gig reception pass (Yes, I was really pushy back then, but the industry creds helped). Ritchie was there, hanging out, beer in hand. We struck up a conversation. It began on common ground: we both rode BMW motorcycles, and I told him how sorry I was that he hadn’t been able to perform at Lowell’s memorial concert in L.A. Some years prior – a show that I had caught, courtesy of my former college friend and L.A. roommate Mark Gander, a V.P at JBL at the time, a big product supplier and corporate endorsee of the band. Richie had been laid out from a bike crash – on Topanga Canyon Road if I recall – and had missed the show. We talked some more, comparing notes on mutual acquaintances in L.A., life on the road, the merits of German bike design, the quality of the night’s show, and more. I walked away thinking he was a hell of a nice guy, and of course, one amazing drummer with a unique style that was imminently and immediately recognizable. I met him again several years later, at a Jimmy Buffett show where the Feat were the opening act. Must have been 1991, Louisville, Kentucky, outdoors, and I was the editor of both Recording Engineer/Producer and Live Sound International magazines. A perk let me get out on the road every once in a while to sniff reality. That day, I got to hang out backstage with the band for the afternoon, watching the roadies race remote control cars around the tour buses and semi’s, and eat local BBQ with Fred and Paul, mining for tidbits like where the inspiration for certain songs came from, how the songwriting duties were shared, and what the obvious double entendres of certain lyrics really referred to. My time with Richie was short, a couple of pleasantries exchanged, regards for a good show that night, etc. Again, I thought: What a hell of a nice guy. Fast forward to now. Just about every chance I get to see the band here in Kansas City, whatever its latest incarnation, I take. It’s not always a performance at the 100% level anymore, but you know what? I’ve seen many shows that were. Of the 20 or more live Little Feat performances I’ve caught over the years, most were. It’s like visiting with your best childhood friend who only visits occasionally. You cherish the moments. Some are more enjoyable than others, but each and every one is completely worthwhile. Importantly, you never know which visit will be the last. We’re all getting up there in age, and sadly, nothing lasts forever. Things change, go away. Richie, rest in peace, my friend. What you brought to our lives can’t be measured. I hold the memories, few, brief, meaningful, that I spent speaking with you, and, of course, I have your beautiful and timeless music here in front of me. As long as I’m able, I’ll be listening to your playing, and to what you contributed to music, to my life, to the enjoyment of millions of listeners and audience members, and to all the other players that heard you, internalized your feel, and found stylistic inspiration in your amazing talent. You ruled the skins, dude. Nobody did it better. Let’s meet up on the other side and compare notes…. Mike Joseph
13 August 2010
Lenexa, KS

Alan Zukof August 14, 2010, 05:58:15

I’m glad Richie is no longer suffering, but damn, I’ll miss him. We never exchanged more than a few words after several Feat shows, but those few words were enough. No one ever cared more about the fans and the music — there are drummers, and there was Richie Hayward. Peace be with you, friend. You’ll be very much on my mind come Sept. 23 in Lexington, KY.

John Warren August 14, 2010, 09:36:48

A little piece is now at peace. hoyhoy

G Mars August 14, 2010, 16:27:01

What wonderful tributes to a fella that helped many folks discover their “Inner Groove” and soul in so many different ways.

Chip Marshall August 14, 2010, 19:46:12

Another great musician has passed. Richie was one of the great ones of my time, as was the band he drove with his pounding backbeat. To my fellow Hawkeye, may you finally rest in peace. God bless.

Adam August 14, 2010, 23:04:12

Listening to Waiting for Colombus as I write this. Damn. I got nothing….. Such an amazing musician. So long, buddy. Say Hi to George for us…..

Joseph Stephan August 16, 2010, 14:23:35

Such a loss. Little Feat remains a great band and my all time favorite but their groove will never be the same without Richie. Rest in peace…..

JZ August 16, 2010, 16:03:21

Ritchie was the FOOT in the Feat. Without his unique, propulsive, syncopated locomotive style, Little Feat would not have had theirs. While Lowell, Paul and Bill have gotten more recognition, Ritchie’s sound was the foundation for the band. He was also a terrifically nice guy and was all about the music- “Bad, like Jessie James” We will miss you Ritchie, you were the finest. JZ

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