Rick "Killer" Smith
Rick “Killer” Smith is an original – not only because of his unique nickname, but because he is one of the charter members of the Northwest Sound Chorus and one of only two (including Chuck Landback) original members currently active in the chorus.
Rick got his start in barbershop with the Lake Washington Skippers in the early 80’s. A fellow who worked for him, whose father was a past international champion, heard he like to sing and said, “I’m going to take you someplace you’ll really love.” That first night at the Skippers, Rick ended up singing tags until two am with Dan Tangarone and a couple of other guys. He was hooked from that day forward, and even with a few short breaks since that time, he’s sung barbershop for a total of about thirty-five years. He has sung both lead and baritone in 3 different choruses and at least 8 different quartets.
After some time in the Skippers, Rick had to take a break from singing due to work responsibilities. It was during that time that he was contacted by some of his friends, including Dan and Chuck, about the still to be formed Northwest Sound and he was eager to be involved in this new group. It was an exciting time – but a few years in, a job change took him to Bellingham and the commute to NWS rehearsal became too great. He then joined the Mt. Baker Toppers and continued his barbershop career.
A few years ago, Rick’s son, Rich, decided that he wanted to try his hand at barbershop singing. He’d grown up listening to his dad and had developed a love of barbershop music, so he visited NWS and went through the Sing, Sing, Sing program. Rick states, “When he joined, I decided I would make the trek to Bellevue each week and have the opportunity to sing with my son. And with Kenny being here, with the chorus singing so well, and with the challenges we get, I’m so happy that I did. It’s one of the most rewarding times in my whole barbershop career, being in Northwest Sound right now.”
Over the years Rick was chapter treasurer in Northwest Sound and a section leader in the Toppers.
Rick thinks he has sung in at least eight quartets. The quartet he is most associated with is called Double Deuce. This group remained active for over twenty-one years and they still get together to sing for fun.
Rick’s career was as an accountant in the corporate world. He retired from Alcoa in 2010. His varied roles through the years gave him the opportunity to travel all over the world. He enjoyed the work but didn’t enjoy all the time away from home. So, after about six years of ninety percent travel he woke up on a nice sunny blue-sky day and said, “I think it’s time to retire.”
Now, in addition to singing, Rick tries to play golf during the summertime, playing in a senior league that has tournaments about every two weeks all over Whatcom and Skagit Counties. He likes to fish and has recently taken up bass fishing with Ken Hammer. He has done some volunteer work at the Habitat for Humanity store in Bellingham and enjoys getting his hands in fixing things.
Rick has been married to Kristi for fifty-one years and they have a son, Rich, who is a member of Northwest Sound, and a daughter, Ann. There are two grandsons, Dimitri and Preston, who have both gone through the Sing, Sing, Sing program and performed onstage with their father and grandfather in NWS.
Raised in Omak, Washington, in high school he was heavily involved in the arts, choir, band, and music performance. Rick attended Western Washington State College where he graduated in 1970.
Now, as a final note, if you want to know how he got his nickname, “Killer,” you’ll have to ask him.