If you switched on any Australian pop radio station in the 1990s, it wasn’t long until you you heard something by Rick Price.
Launched into stardom by the industry big-label Sony, the long-haired (at the time) rocker was best known for songs like Not A Day Goes By, Heaven Knows, River Of Love and To Be With You. (You can reminisce on his Youtube channel).
Although those days of sold-out global stadium tours are now behind him, you can’t take the music out of the man and Rick Price is still successfully writing, recording and touring; from Nashville.
Hope 103.2 caught up with him on the launch of his new roots-and-gospel influenced album, Tennessee Sky.
Album With One Foot In The Gospel Camp
Image: Fotono Photography
It’s an album heavily influenced by Southern gospel sounds – with song titles like Light On The River Jordan, Can I Get A Witness and Dead Man Walkin.
The lyrics are even clearer: I’m going to that sacred place / To see the light of Jesus’ face, from No More Tears To Cry, a rootsy, truck-driving song, and This here train is glory bound from the foot-stomping Work That Fire.
Rick told Nick Bennett that he aimed for an album that would create uplift.
“I really wanted this record to lift peoples spirits when they hear it, give them a sort of injection of feel-good, and stir their spirit,” he said. “I really felt an urge to go back to the old-school roots-based rhythms. They’re just so much fun to play live.”
A Gospel Man From Way Back
Rick, who started playing music with his family band at bush dances in country Queensland, was touched by gospel music at a young age.
“I think the first time I heard gospel music was Elvis Presley,” he said. “My mother was a huge Elvis fan and so when I was a little kid growing up in the house, we’d hear Elvis records a lot. And of course my uncles and aunties who were all musicians, were huge Elvis fans.
“When I first heard “There will be peace in the valley” , I thought, “It doesn’t matter what you believe, that’s got to move you. It’s gotta have an effect on you.”
“And I’m also a lover of bluegrass roots music. I love blues and gospel and Ray Charles and some of the gospel things he did.
“So this album is a little bit of a mix of everything.”
He said he was also inspired by the gospel-rich film, Oh Brother Where Art Thou.
What It’s Like Being An Aussie Living In Nashville
Rick told Nick Bennett that while he still calls Australia home, he and his wife have now lived in Nashville for six years, and he’s been visiting there for more than 20.
He says Nashville’s a hub for musicians and songwriters like himself and that he and other Australians like him are very much welcomed there.
“Nashville is renowned as a haven and a home a base for great songwriters,” he said. “People come from Los Angeles and New York, all over the world, really, to record here.
“I think at some point, probably in the late 80s to 90s, a lot of songwriters from New York, Los Angeles and of course session musicians, started to move to Nashville because they realised, “we can write songs for these big country artists”.
“It’s a very low key place, but a lot of incredible musicians and writers live here. And it’s a great base located really well for touring and bands. There’s a lot of tour buses in Nashville driving out of town every night.”
The Music Industry Has Changed Forever
Rick said that while the record business has taken a “massive dive” with the rise of the internet and the vast changes in the way people listen to music, it hasn’t dampened the spirit of many musicians.
“Large record companies are not signing as many artists and they’re not putting as much money into those artists,” he said. “The whole business has been affected. But it’s very hard to stop a passionate musician doing what he does.
“And what’s happened is, as artists, we’ve become independent promoters. We do things like pledge music campaigns, to raise money, to get the budgets together to record albums.
“So it’s a harder business, but in some ways, a more honest business.”
No Ties To Big Labels Means Musical Freedom
Listen: One of Rick Price’s more recent songs, Shape Of My Heart.
As an artist who made it big with a record company in the 1990s, Rick says he was “very spoilt”.
“I was on the radio right across the board all over the country and so I had the big machine, the support behind me, that enabled me to get out to the public in one big massive push,” he said.
While he says the industry will never operate that way again, Rick says the change in the industry has brought a great sense of artistic freedom. He’s been able to create records like Tennessee Sky and his previous album, The Water’s Edge, with complete musical control.
“I have my own record label now,” he said. “Because I raise the money myself for my own records, I get to decide artistically what’s going to be on my records. There’s a great sense of freedom in that.”
On Hanging Out With Tommy Emmanuel
Tennessee Sky features top industry musicians including Australia’s own Tommy Emmanuel, who’s also based in Nashville.
Rick has spent time jamming with the guitar legend and describes him as a good friend.
“On the way home today I was listening to Tommy’s latest album, a solo acoustic album, and it’s so, so beautiful. He’s an absolutely phenomenal musician and a good buddy.
“We tour together from time to time. He’ll invite me to go on tour with him in Europe or sometimes the States. We play at each other’s houses, at Christmas time usually. He’s going very well.”
Australia Tour In November
Rick Price will be touring Australia in November taking in venues at Hardy’s Bay, Newcastle, Bellingen, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Burnie, Devonport, Launceston, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide.
He’ll even be doing a church gig at St Catharine’s in Melbourne, with plans to tour churches in Australia more extensively in 2016.