Richard McClean

1898 – 1968


Born in uptown New Orleans, guitarist and Banjoist Richard A. McLean (1898-1968) was the father of guitarist Ernest McLean. Richard McLean acquired a n acoustic guitar when he was 16 years old, but postponed learning how to play it until after he was married. He began working in the mid-1920s with trumpeter Vic Depenza, but soon switched to banjo to perform with trumpeter Amos White’s band. Shortly after, he joined drummer Arnold Depass’s Olympia Band, which led to work with Kid Rena, and then with Sam Morgan. In the 1930s he played with Eddie Jackson’s Band at the Music Box, a taxi dance hall, on Canal Street, then with the Sunny South Band led by Albert McNeil. In the midst of the Depression he found work with the WPA Band and was inactive during World War II. After the war he returned to playing guitar, performing with Sidney Desvigne’s Orchestra, then with Paul Barbarin, and in the mid-1950s he worked with Bill Matthews at the Paddock Lounge in the French Quarter. Richard McLean also taught, and among his guitar students were his son, Ernest McLean, and Sidney Cates.

An interview with Richard McLean can be found here:

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