Rick Rutherford: “You cannot be a part-time successful musician”

You cannot be a part-time successful musician. It seems like every time I think I might get some time off; I receive another opportunity to boost my career. I find myself pursuing opportunities full time and rehearsing and producing in my spare time, which is not the way I had envisioned it in the beginning, […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

You cannot be a part-time successful musician. It seems like every time I think I might get some time off; I receive another opportunity to boost my career. I find myself pursuing opportunities full time and rehearsing and producing in my spare time, which is not the way I had envisioned it in the beginning, but it surely is what it is, success.

As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Rick Rutherford of Lightnin’ Stik Productions.

Rick Rutherford is a singer, songwriter, guitarist, composer and producer based in Colorado. Nevertheless, his cosmopolitan past has taken him all over the USA. He was raised on the east coast of Florida and spent time living in the upper pacific northwest near Seattle.

Musically, ‘Rutherford’ specializes in rock n roll with a twist of southern rock and metal. His music is all feel good, and his infectious hooks get the foot tapping. Lyrically, ‘Rutherford’ writes about real-life issues, and he bases his poetry on personal experiences.

Since, growing up, ‘Rutherford’ has found influence in some of the world’s most notable names, including The Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Also, he has a strong admiration for blues player, Robert Johnson. Combining his influences and his own vision into one, he has crafted a sound that you will struggle to locate elsewhere but that can be found right now on his website.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Growing up on the east coast of south Florida exposed me to so many different types of music, starting with my mother’s enjoyment for classical and piano music mixed with my buddy’s older brother’s Peter Frampton and Kiss LPs, not to mention the many various breezy vibes that came out of the Caribbean Islands, Jamaica and Haiti, as well as all of the western mainstream genres, like country, rock, metal, rap, hip hop and reggae. All these influences drove me to consume massive amounts of music in a search to find out how to write great songs. It all started when I was about eight years old that I stumbled onto my parents’ vinyl LP collection only to get stuck somewhere around Wooley Bulley, Polka Dot Bikini, and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. I really loved that Sgt. Peppers LP. It kept me fascinated, at least, until the day my babysitter played the new Back in Black LP by ACDC. I then knew my path. But, since my parents were against Angus-loud guitar music in the house, it would be another seven years before I would stumble upon my opportunity to learn how. But the wait would not be in vain, as I would go on to digest so many other great guitarists by then, like Jimmy Page, Robert Johnson, Tommy Iommi, Jimi Hendrix and eventually, Eddie Van Halen and Randy Rhodes. In the end, I have not heard a Back in Black tune in years, but I still crank up the Sgt. Peppers and Abbey Road LPs every now and again.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was twelve, I was aimlessly wandering around town one day when I ran across the local radio station and decided to walk in to just “see.” I was curious and they were kind enough to show me around while explaining all the different aspects that go into radio broadcasting. But then, I met the radio host girl of my dreams. I had always loved her sexy sounding voice on the radio and often wondered what she looked like in real life. Well, she was a goddess. I was struck; so much so, that I could not stop staring and no words would come out of my mouth. She commenced to laughing and talking about how cute it was, and while I never saw her again, that experience opened the door for me to later hang out at that radio station, where I gained access to many music submissions by up-and-coming bands like Accept and the Scorpions, which further fueled my ambition to become a great singer songwriter.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

That would be the day the doctor placed this baby girl in my arms and then handed me the snips to cut the cord. Imagine — me — holding a fresh infant still attached to her mother by this long cord. I had never ever seen nor thought I would see something so … I don’t even know how to describe it, or all the thoughts and emotions that torrented through me at that moment. My mind … just a blur. This is the same infant that I sang and played guitar for while she was still in the womb just weeks earlier. This is the same little girl that would steal my heart away; that she can do no wrong. This is the same child that I home schooled to get her into kindergarten so she would not be a year behind her classmates, only to end up graduating high school a year early with a full college scholarship. The very same daughter who I will never regret setting my career aside to raise, because it was a detour that taught me so many more legitimate emotions and experiences to write about. Things we all share as humans, regardless of the differences that often divide us. More wholesome ideas than just an angry rage and drunken tantrum on stage. Ideas like, there really is something greater than all of us that happens when we come together and connect through song. Yes, she is all grown up now, but she will always be my little girl, because I still hold all the memories she no longer remembers.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I remember the first time I ever sang on stage. The band had been rehearsing cover songs for months, but at the last moment, their vocalist got jitters and refused to go on stage. He was saying something like there were people watching, which is kind of the point, but he had never sung in front of a crowd before, and he had thought that no one would show up. To the contrary, a lot of people showed up, because it was outdoors and when the guitars and drums started warming up, random people just gathered around for the show. So, the guitarist looks at me and smiles, “Rick can do it.” Now, I had never sang in front of a crowd either. And, I had not rehearsed any of those songs on their set list, which included several Iron Maiden songs. Sure, I had sung along with all the Maiden songs growing up, but there is a reason why only Bruce Dickenson should sing Maiden songs. Don’t let me stop you from concluding that it was a complete and utter Disaster! Because it was. Always admit your limits and only test new ones in rehearsal, not in front of a live audience.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I just finished up a Behind the Song series video for Words. That was fun, because I got to re-record Words on an acoustic twelve string and set it way back in the mix, so my vocals are way out front. I feel it came out very well. It should be released here shortly, so keep an eye out. If you enjoy acoustic folk music, do yourself a favor and go listen to this acoustic version. Also, there is a full album of scratch tracks already laid down for production and release later this year that experiment with some new directions. Right now, however, I am working on plans to produce a music video for another song called “Mix Sum Luvn.” It contains a pure 80s ballad sound captured on cassette years ago, which is sure to bring back some memories for rock fans of that era. We are planning to release that later this summer leading up to the album release around August 2021.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity is one thing I appreciate most about growing up in South Florida. It expanded my mind to include more ideas than just what I envisioned. It taught me that other viewpoints can be just as intriguing, and sometimes, more so than my own. As for music, my music is certainly better because of it, where I can draw from so many other vibes and feels that I would not have been able to do otherwise. Having crossed the United States, I have been able to sample many different cultures, their people and their lives, as well as what makes each traditionally unique. Each tradition holds the heart and soul of its people and each experience has been beautiful to me. There is no reason for me to believe that Film and Music would be better off without diversity when it has surely played such a positive role in my life and career.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

You cannot be a part-time successful musician. It seems like every time I think I might get some time off; I receive another opportunity to boost my career. I find myself pursuing opportunities full time and rehearsing and producing in my spare time, which is not the way I had envisioned it in the beginning, but it surely is what it is, success.

Nothing comes free or easy. You cannot just play, and stardom magically appear. MTV made it look way too easy … just pick up a guitar, get some tattoos and grow long hair. It is not that easy at all, and it certainly does not come free. So, you really do have to love this life to live it.

How to get out of my head and into my heart. I never understood there was a difference, until one day it just all clicked. So many years wasted trying to force music to happen rather than just opening up and letting it flow out.

It can be a lonely life no matter how many fans you have. I grew up with thousands of friends through high school and found time to hang out with most of them in person. As friends became fans and my life turned artist, I found myself alone more often working on productions away from home and those I would rather be around. So, when I get to share a new production with my fans, it is an overly exciting moment for me, because I get to reconnect with all my friends.

You do not have to pay to play or play for stale beer to make it. Truth is, one can only become the value they place on themselves, but too often, I have been a bit more eager to perform for venues that did not perform for me. There are always alternatives and I have found at times that I can make more money performing on the street rather than in a stale club; and I get to meet random and genuine people as a bonus. I love listening to other peoples’ life stories, which at times, have been all I needed to play. I mean, we really are all just friends here. I do, however, still enjoy the heavier tip jar.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Do what you love and never allow it to become your job. Look for ways to keep things new and interesting each, and every day. Remain spontaneous and adventuresome in all your ways. Take time to enjoy the results of your efforts. Don’t lose touch with the things that truly matter.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would say, “One Love.” Bob Marley got it right when he caused a movement that teaches each of us to come together in ways that value one another’s differences and challenges us to seek a result where everyone wants to know each other’s story to better understand one another in brotherly love. There is not a better call to action than the lyrics, “One love. One heart. Let’s get together and feel alright.”

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My fiancée, Lisa, for her continued support and always telling me I can do this even when I see no openings to the goal post. She keeps my focus sharp and directed at what truly matters most and challenges me in ways that cause me to become a better person. Without her, I am sure I could manage, but she has made my journey far more fun and enjoyable during points I nearly gave up on me. Yes, I would blame her for me being here today.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have always liked Dr. Seuss’s: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.” For me, this quote has helped me navigate many tough scenarios throughout my life, where what I said mattered. It has helped me to find my voice and to remain true to my heart when I use it.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Paul McCartney. Why? Because he was probably the best songwriter of all time and certainly the reason behind me wanting to become a singer songwriter in the first place. It all goes back to Sgt. Peppers for me, followed by the White Album and Abbey Road. The Beatles caused the conception of becoming a songwriter to form inside my head. Think about it. That guitar and vocal was so mean in Sgt Peppers, and that was back in ’67, yet we still are emulating it today. Imagine what he may have in his mind today, and how just a glimpse inside could affect songwriting and the future of music. Maybe brunch, with a little time to listen to whatever wisdom he feels like sharing.

How can our readers follow you online?

Readers should follow me on my website. It contains all the important links to my social media and music. Go to:

This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

    Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

    You might also like...

    Rick Nielsen playing his custom five-neck guitar.

    “Cheap Trick” and the Track to a Creative Legacy

    by Pamela Sisson

    The Turning Point

    by Marianne Larned

    Matt Sapaula on Why Tough times don’t Last But Tough People Do

    by Duku
    We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.