Richard Swift, Prolific Producer and Member of Black Keys, Dead at 41


Singer-songwriter and California-born producer Richard Swift, known for his work with The Shins, The Black Keys and the Arcs, passed away Tuesday morning. He was 41.

Swift had been hospitalized for a life-threatening condition about a month ago.

Swift, who played various important roles with many bands, is the owner and founder of National Freedom, the recording studio in Cottage Grove, Oregon. He produced Valerie June, Jessie Baylin, and Nathaniel Rateliff, among others. He worked as a member of The Shins from 2011 to 2016.

Swift had been working with The Black Keys as their touring bassist and backing singer since April 2014 and he was a drummer for the Arcs.

Swift a Master Producer and Musician

“RichardSwift-41-What a brilliant musical and artistic mind we have lost. May your travels onward be gentle and light. There have been many highlights to recording both of my records, an one of the greatest was being in the room and working with you,” wrote Valerie June on her Twitter page.

Dan Auerbach, with whom Swift worked in The Black Keys also posted on Twitter: “Today the world lost one of the most talented musicians I know. He’s now with his Mom and Sister. I will miss you my friend.”


Richard Swift Born In, Returned to California

Swift was born in California and lived in the states of Minnesota, Utah and Oregon. He came back to make music in California and made his first records Walking Without Effort and The Novelist in the Green Room studio in Huntington Beach in the early 2000s. The projects were rereleased as The Richard Swift Collection Vol. 1 in 2005.

In 2018, he worked as composer, drummer and bassist on Shannon Shaw’s records Freddies ‘n’ Teddies and Shannon in Nashville.  He produced Rateliff’s Tearing at the Seams, took the photographs for John Prine’s The Tree of Forgiveness and produced Born Ruffians’ Uncle, Duke & the Chief.

He performed on Jools Holland in 2007: