Dick Chasin (friend)
September 29, 2014

Rick directed a series of 11 shows on normal life transitions for WGBH-FM in 1967, Called a Chance to grow, the on-air expert was Norman Paul, M.D. He also produced a series of 8 shows called Three Families for WGBH-TV in 1970 for which his on-air expert was Richard Chasin, M.D.

Throughout the 1980s, Rick met regularly with Jody Scheier, LICSW and Richard Chasin, M.D. for mutual consultation. 

In 1984, collaborating with Dr. Chasin, Harvard Law School Fellow Bruce Patten, and Professor Roger Fisher (co-author of Getting to Yes), and Professor Frank Sander, Rick created curriculum for the psychological component of Negotiation Project, a large one month intensive course open to law students and other graduate students at Harvard. Rick taught in that course for thirty years. [I’ll check that out]. A version of that course is still being taught. Rick is credited for his work by Bruce Patton and by two former Teaching Assistants, Douglas Stone, and Sheila Heen, the three authors of the best-selling, Difficult Conversations.

Steve Gilford (and others)
February 27, 2015

What follows are some thoughtful tributes to Rick Lee that appeared on a website devoted primarily to traditional music and to the Autoharp.  Drew Smith and Cathy Britell are respected and admired by people across the country but they are only a couple of the many people across the US and Europe who grew to appreciate Rick’s unique talents and personality.  I thought that what they, and to a small extent, what I might have to say about Rick would broaden the appreciation for this remarkable man.

In reading the Amherst tributes to Rick, I saw a mention of the Indian Neck Folk Festival that Drew Smith also mentions in his recollections.  It was because of Indian Neck that I first met Rick.  As a member of the group that was initiating what I think is still a unique, free, for performers only, folk festival, I stage-managed a gala fund-raising concert in Yale’s Woolsey Hall.  Among the performers were Rick and Lorraine. It was the beginning of a friendship, and entwined broadcasting careers that lasted for decades and ended too soon.

Date: Wed, 11 Feb 2015
From: "DREW SMITH" <drew-smith-autoharp-emporium@verizon.net>
To: cyberpluckers@autoharp.org

Subject: This is the picture of Rick Lee

I'm sure that many of us have been greatly influenced by other musicians over the years.  Living in the Northeast I fortunately have had many fine players of differing styles of music to play with.  This is about one of them.

His name is Rick Lee.  He lived in Natick, MA.  I knew Rick and played autoharp with him for over 30 years.  Rick was an excellent piano and banjo player, singer and performer who had such a wide ranging repertoire.  He wrote exceptionally fine tunes and songs.  When jamming with Rick he'd lead a tune and then pass it along for each of those in the group to also play it.

The group consisted of all types of stringed instruments.  Often it was something we had not ever heard before.  The music ranged from British Isles to Northumbrian pipe tunes, pop tunes from yesteryear, to honky-tonk and so much more.  We had to call upon all the tricks we may have learned in the past, to come up with our own version of the tune Rick started.  Rick would put us "to the test." And we were caused to reach for techniques and chords beyond our former experiences.

In other words, we had to totally "stretch" ourselves, playing beyond our normal comfort zones.  These were challenging sessions for sure!  I got together with Rick several times a year for 30+ years.  It was always the same thrilling experience of coming away playing better than I thought I was capable of.  I would like to offer this picture of one of my many mentors, who had so often challenged me along with others, when playing music with him whenever we could get together.

Rick Lee Banjo.jpg

Rick passed away last year. I was most honored to have played autoharp at his memorial.

Drew Smith

Steve Guilford:

When I read Drew Smith’s appreciation of Rick, I knew I wanted to respond.

On Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 12:53 AM, Steve Gilford  wrote:  I was pleased and moved to read Drew Smith's memories of Rick Lee here.  I remember first meeting Rick when he and Lorraine were still college students. Rick was still a student at Amherst in Massachusetts.  His invitation to participate in a fundraiser for the then brand new Indian Neck Folk Festival in 1959 or 60 was an indication that he was already attracting an appreciative audience.  Theo Bikel was there as were other "names" from that period but I have vivid memories only of Rick and Lorraine and Harry and Jeannie West.

I didn't really get to know Rick though until we both were working at WGBH, the flagship Public Broadcasting station in Boston, as producers. Rick was involved in creating several groundbreaking programs, some of which continue to shape the best of television. One of those programs, The Advocates, introduced him to a Harvard lawyer, Roger Fisher, whose idea of a highly produced television debate program was a new concept.  (Fisher was the author of "Getting to Yes", a handbook for negotiations. He was involved for instance in the drafting of the Camp David Accords.)

This was a turning point in Rick's professional life. When he left WGBH over an ethical issue, he went back to school and received a Master's Degree in Education from Harvard and then teamed up again with Roger Fisher.

For the remainder of his life, he traveled around the world to English speaking countries giving seminars to mid and top level business executives in which he helped them develop their personal styles of win-win negotiations.  (That he carried this off despite his idiosyncratic appearance is a testimony to the power of his personality and his ability to get results.)

Rick would come to San Francisco to give seminars and we would get together and play. He was a far better musician than I am but he loved music so much that he truly enjoyed sharing that love.  Introducing new musical ideas was fun for him and it seemed he was always ready to play with anyone who was enthusiastic about the music.

I was always being surprised how this man from Natick, MA had so many devoted friends around the country. I should have known that he and Drew would have enjoyed each other. He was a good friend of Cathy Britell and Bryan Bowers. Except for the geographical distance, I should have figured that they would know each other but it turned out that they were very good, and longtime friends and musical collaborators. Most recently, on what turned out to be one of his last visits to San Francisco, since it coincided with the San Francisco Folk Societies bi-weekly meetings and song fests at Faith Petrick's, I suggested we go there. This got him real excited, he knew Faith, too!

What drew people to Rick was his enthusiasm and his sincere interest in people he met. Playing with him was always enlightening because if you were at all interested in the backstory of a song, of an instrument, a performer, a style, Rick would fill you in.  He was a natural teacher and he was always willing to take time to show a lick to a new player. When I got an old Lyons and Healy banjo and was trying to get something that was at least reminiscent of music, Rick was willing, even anxious to show me what I needed to get started.

He was also a pianist. If you go onto Youtube and look him up, there is a recording of him playing piano in Scotland. (NOTE from Webmaster:  this video link is posted on these In Memory pages.) It is in a totally different style but it also captures his sincerity and depth of feeling. When I heard that Rick had died, I went to that recording and played it over and over while I went back through emails to and from Rick, remembering what a unique and lovely person he was..

Steve Gilford

Cathy Britell:  (One of the leading figures in traditional music in the Northwest and with a national reputation. She herself is an excellent teacher and inspirator as well as musician.)
February 25, 2015

Here's a copy of my note about Rick, edited a bit for general consumption.

I first met Rick on the "first annual Bob Zentz and Cathy Britell east coast tour".  We were going through Boston, and Bob said we would stop in at his best buddy Rick's for the night.  I was familiar with the album that the two of them had just made with Rick Epping, and so knew the music would be great.  As Rick showed me my room in his historical red house in Natick on the edge of the park, he said, "that's where you'll sleep, but I think we'll be playing music all night and for as long as you want to stay and play."

That was when I found out that Rick is one of those "rear view mirror" musical buddies.  You know how it says, "Warning; Objects may be closer than they appear"?  Well with Rick there should be a warning: "This person makes you sound like a better musician than you are." In truth, Rick made all of us better musicians.

Rick was the ultimate social music-maker.

About the last 10-15 years, he would come and work in Seattle 2-3 times/year. (He was a doctor of psychology who gave negotiation seminars all over the world - needless to say, he mostly got his way with all of his friends).  He'd stay with us for a few days afterward and we'd play music in Seattle, and if Bryan Bowers was home, we'd go up to his place for a couple of days of nonstop music.  

One of those times, Bryan was fretting about having agreed to donate a song to a charity album for this environmental group, "Friends of the Skagit".  No place/time to record, no expertise on this new digital recorder he had just gotten.  So, Rick took over the situation, spent an hour or two with the recorder, and then told us all that we would record "Friend for Life" which hadn't yet been recorded, live in the living room, and it would be great.  We did, and it was great.  

Rick would always bring 2-3 new tunes when he came.  I'll never forget lying on the floor one night while Rick was laboriously teaching us "Cran Ull". So tired I couldn't stand up, but determined to learn that tune.

Rick loved technology.  One visit, he brought a brand new little Kodak pocket digital movie camera that he was infatuated with.  He said, "Let's make a video of you playing".  At that time, I was thinking about doing an instructional  iBook on autoharp playing, so I said, “let's do scales on the autoharp”. So, those videos that are in my iBook and on the autoharpteacher.com website on scales are compliments of Rick Lee.

One day he was in my office, playing with the little keyboard hooked to the computer.  I never use it much except for notating/writing/arranging music, but he figured out how to record a tune.   So now to this I can push a button and have Rick play that little tune on the keyboard for me.  What a sweet little gift! 

I could go on and on boring you with Rick Lee stories but I think his music speaks for itself. 

Rick has a MUCH bigger legacy of music and memories than this...this is just my tiny part.

Cathy Britell
Seattle WA

And finally, something from Rick himself.  For an “alumni” gathering at WGBH, he prepared this short autobiography in 2000:

From Rick Lee — 2000

I worked first for Don Quayle, AGM/radio, while I was a junior and senior at Amherst College and ‘GBH was putting WFCR on the air. We experimented with using FM subcarriers to do two-way classroom sessions.

Don liked my work and offered me a job after graduation. When I graduated, he had left ‘GBH. But he had put in a good word with Hartford Gunn. So I came to work in 1963 at ‘GBH/FM as a weekend announcer and radio producer when the station was in Kendall Square. Bill Pierce was in Symphony Hall and I did the studio end of symphony broadcasts, etc. TV was at that time at the Museum of Science. (This was about a year after the fire on Mass. Ave.)

I worked for T.F. Conley who had replaced Don Quayle as AGM/radio and did lot of early radio network programs, long before NPR. We had an East Coast hookup to NY, Phila, DC, and west to Buffalo and did a nightly 2-hour “Kaleidoscope,” a predecessor to All Things Considered. I also edited Michael Rice’s tapes from England, “Diary of a Rhodes Scholar,” and various other tape inputs.

When we moved into the new building about 1966, Michael Rice had finished his Rhodes scholarship and took over the radio operation from Tom Conley. Michael asked me to be Production Manager for radio, which I did for a year or so before Bob Larsen invited me to become Executive Producer in the new Education Division which was about to put WGBX/44 on the air. I produced its first television program, a live interactive simulation of diplomacy around the Korean War called “The Most Dangerous Game.”

Thereafter, I did a bunch of simulation game shows for schools, with students doing more and more of the writing as well as talent slots. I also produced a series of films about kids in urban environments, and continued doing programs about normal family development which I had begun in radio with Norman Paul (“A Chance to Grow”) and Dick Chasin (“Three Families”).

I was invited to be “field faculty” for some graduate students at Harvard in 1969. When Hartford Gunn left ‘GBH to go to PBS in 1970, I went to a Harvard faculty meeting and asked about becoming a student in the new psychology Ph.D. program. The folks I’d worked with on the faculty supported my application for an NIMH grant and I left ‘GBH in the summer of 1970 to go to graduate school.

In graduate school, I worked at the Boston State Hospital, and Lorraine and I redeveloped our performance schedule in folk music. We had done several shows at Club 47, Unicorn, etc. in 1963-4, but suspended performance while I was busiest at ‘GBH and while our son Peter was small.

In 1975 Folk Legacy released our first recording. Several followed in various combinations in 1978, 1983, 1984, 1985. Lorraine and I split in 1986.

Since then, I have been working with Roger Fisher and his colleagues designing and teaching a workshop on negotiation at Harvard, and have been teaching action methods and video-feedback at the Family Institute of Cambridge.

Waterbug Records asked me to do a solo CD in 1995, released as “Natick.” Most recently a solo CD of mine for Waterbug, “There’s Talk About a Fence,” was released in 1999.

So I continue to do video, mostly closed circuit, and singing and playing.

Details on the music are at: http://www.ricklee.org

Details on the video-feedback project should soon be at: http://www.familyinstitutecamb.org

The main new excitement is my 3-1/2 year-old granddaughter, Sammi. She’s learning to play harmonica and we have been playing and singing together just for fun.

All the best.