Richard M. Phalen

Music has been an important part of life for Dick (aka: Richard, RMP, "Fings", Professor Phalen, etc. – whatever you’re comfortable with) since he got his first “sound system” at the age of four. His parents gave him a combination AM Radio/45 RPM record player. When he wasn’t running around the neighborhood (and later, around Fond du Lac County) with his buddies, Dick was listening to records ranging from show tunes, to the hits of the day, to classical music (he can sing the entire “William Tell Overture”). Dick played the bassoon and trombone in the school bands from third grade through high school, and also took piano lessons. As a result, he learned to read and write music (standard notation and tabulature), but he never talks about, because he doesn’t want it to diminish his rock & roll cred. When Dick was in fourth grade, he got the only Christmas present he wanted… a guitar. It was an EKO six-string acoustic. Check your basements - if anyone still has one in good condition, please let Dick know - he might want to buy it. Guitar in hand, like so many other young guys of his era, he was hooked on being a rocker, for all the usual reasons (or, should that be “..the usual reason”?). As Dick explains it, he practiced his chords and his scales, and played along with records and the radio until he learned all his favorite songs. "As a result of my long hours of practice and relentless dedication, I became a key player in legendary groups like the Beatles, the Stones, the Animals, the Yardbirds, and the rest of the “British Invasion” bands, playing guitar and singing harmony - they just didn’t exactly know about it.” Actually, Dick never played in a high school garage band. He often jammed with rocker friends, and was enlisted to play guitar for a number of pick-up folk groups around town. However, commitments to sports, school organizations, and mostly harmless juvenile delinquency precluded him from being in a working band. It was in college that Dick’s musical talents began to become a bit more noticeable. Dick funded part of his education by teaching guitar lessons and playing for anyone who needed a guitar slinger. “I was not a music major - but I played one on campus” – appearing in shows, ensembles, big bands, and the usual hazy musical free-for-alls. After college, Dick moved to Chicago and played with a number of rock and blues outfits, most notably “The Sundance Music Company” which he formed with Brian Murphy and Bill Minnear. Sundance had some success locally, which led to traveling and touring both as an acoustic trio, and a real rock band when the group would add a drummer. (During one six-month period, the band went through three drummers - two of whom were lost due to spontaneous combustion - which gives you some indication as to the pace and general dysfunction of the band.) Actually, Brian and Bill were (and still are) very gifted, working musicians. Dick’s role essentially was to play and sing the parts they didn’t want to. After leaving Chicago in the dead of a bitter cold December night, Dick entered the Federal Witness Protection Program – Subversive Vocalists Unit (SVU), for reasons that have never been made public. For a while, rumors circulated that Dick was studying finger-style guitar somewhere in Milwaukee, and someone thought they had seen him jamming a time or two in a Brady Street blues bar, but there were no confirmed sightings. He resurfaced years later in Mequon, Wisconsin, as a simple church musician, where he met several of the other soon-to-be members of MRB. Although at first shy about public performance (again, for reasons never disclosed), he reluctantly agreed to perform live because he believes in the band's mission. On stage, at times he actually seems to be enjoying it.


Everything I've ever heard, especially Jimi Hendrix, Leo Kottke, freight trains, Michael Hedges, Neil Young, nail guns, John Stropes, Joni Mitchell, farm implements, Don Linke, Don and Phil, Stephen Stills, IBM 3890’s, Paul Butterfield, The Byrds, birds, Tuck and Patti, outboard motors, Tom Rush, Warren Zevon, Will, Brian and Bill...



Check out the sites of some friends.

  • Will Phalen and the Stereo Addicts
  • Tuck & Patti
  • Arranmore