“It’s the honesty you apply to your playing that makes music enjoyable. The style of the music has little to do with it. It’s only honesty that makes it beautiful.”Elvin Jones
That stark, shining, honest beauty straight from the heart is what emanated a bright light to countless people from the soul of Richard Chandler. The 60-year-old professional drummer, husband, dad, uncle and friend, who was known to never skip a beat when generously giving his love and talent, lost his years-long battle with cancer on Sunday, Oct. 4.
When news hit of the passing of the longtime Fair Havenite and Rumson-Fair Haven Regional High School (RFH) graduate, the hearts of many friends, colleagues and even passing acquaintances skipped several beats, paralyzed with sadness.
His wife, Lisa Smith Chandler, was the one who broke the news. “Heaven gained another angel today,” she said Sunday on Facebook. “Rich passed peacefully this morning at home with us holding his hand. Rich is at peace and hanging with mom and dad. We love you and will miss you so much. You fought so hard for four years. Play those drums in heaven, we will all be listening. Love you forever.”
And people are listening, forever striving to get in sync with Rich’s melodious beat. His favorite color was green, the one that signifies “Go” and all that’s good and thriving in nature. Naturally.
For decades, Rich’s childhood friends sped through many green lights with him, collecting and protecting cherished moments with their Fair Haven buddy like fragile little shells along the river. Then there were the years of making music. There was a close, large family, his marriage and the making of his own and merging of the two. There were so very many friends and fellow musicians. All these lives were touched deeply by this drummer boy of theirs.
Then all of them watched Rich wage war with cancer with a smile and a steadfast beat of positivity and pure heart. Everyone who knew him felt it. They talked about it. He was present. He showed it — his up beat, in spite of the nasty cancer nemesis. No empty words were uttered. No music unsung or unplayed. He was no accidental Pollyanna. He bore no brand. Just his strident, gentle beat, coming right from the heart. The music. The compassion. The song. His song.
Listen. His song is sung by so many, each dancing to their own beat, his always resonating.
Friend Terri Miller encapsulated it with a quote: “A drummer is never late nor is he early, he hits his count precisely when he means to.”
And Richard Kevin Chandler’s beat goes on … Because when it’s that strong, it always will. Rest In Peace, Rich. You are remembered.
The Chandler family would like all to join them in a celebration of Rich’s life tomorrow, Saturday, Oct. 10, at the home of his sister Liz, 27 Forman Street, Fair Haven. Please wear a mask and distance. Tables will be set far apart.