Autograph Drummer Keni Richards Dead at 60

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Autograph (Richards in center, face circled)

The original drummer for the heavy metal band Autograph, Keni Richards, died on April 8 at age 60. The news was confirmed on the band’s Twitter page, where co-founder Steve Lynch stated: ““He was the mighty force that was our backbone 1983-1988. We wish him a pleasant and peaceful journey. Our love and condolences to his family and friends. He will be missed greatly.” No cause of death was cited.

Guns N’ Roses’ Duff McKagan also paid tribute on Twitter: “R.I.P. Keni will be missed. An amazing soul and funny as hell. Damn. Love you Keni.”

Autograph formed in 1983 as a solo vehicle for guitarist/singer/songwriter Steve Plunkett, who brought Richards—with whom he’d played in a band called John Doe—into the band. The group signed with RCA Records and, after grabbing a coveted tour spot opening for Van Halen, released its debut album, Sign In Please, in 1984. It went to #29 on the Billboard album chart and yielded the hit single “Turn Up the Radio,” which reached the same chart position in early 1985, due largely to heavy MTV airplay.

That song would prove to be Autograph’s only hit single and although there were two other charting albums, That’s the Stuff (1985) and Loud and Clear (1987), the band’s reign as a commercial force was relatively short-lived.

Autograph left RCA in 1988 and before long members began to leave the band, with Richards exiting around this time, having recorded with the band on its three albums for the label. He joined the band Dirty White Boy (with David Bowie guitarist Earl Slick) but after experiencing chronic back pain that led him to addiction and rehab, he retired from music, becoming a painter. In 1998, Richards got back into music, working with singer Mark Lanegan on the latter’s album, Scraps at Midnight.

Watch Autogaph’s “Turn Up the Radio” video

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