At age 6, 'Richie' was taught to play the prima by Joca Radic, one of the family's boarders. The first song he learned to play was "Srbianci i Basanci". At age 7, his father took him to Joe Adich's tavern and sat him on the bar, where he played his first job. If Richie and his Dad weren't at Adich's, they were either at the Serbian Church in Gary or the Serbian Church in East Chicago, Indiana. It was there they met and listened to the Popovich Brothers, Edo Lubich, Vinka, Kapugi Brothers, Djoko and Mel Dokich, plus many other fine tamburasi and singers.
In 1933 and 1934, Richie was taught to play the mandolin and to read music by a Yugoslav immigrant named John Berelos. In 1940, he joined two different orchestras -- "Slavuj" in Whiting, Indiana, and "Novi Zivot" in East Chicago. The instructor for both groups was Joe Nastav. In 1941, Rich joined the Skertich Brothers Orchestra, at Joe Skertich's request, and remained with them for approximately 13 years. He played lead Bisernica and arranged many of the musical parts for the Brothers while recording for Columbia.
After a four-month hitch in the U.S. Air Force in 1942, Richie was medically discharged due to a cardiac disorder. In 1943, he rejoined the Skertich Orchestra and also attended Purdue University, taking a two-year management course. He also took a correspondence course in watch repair.
During his tenure with the Skertich's, he composed Frog Valley Polka, Dreamer, and Moja Zvjesdica, and recorded them on the Columbia label. His sister Evelyn wrote all of the lyrics.
On October 2, 1948, Richie and his new bride celebrated their wedding night at Club Selo, listening to the Popovich Brothers Orchestra. He is the father of five children (two girls and three boys), and at present, a grandfather to two boys and three girls.
After leaving the Skertich Orchestra in the mid 1950's, Richie did not play Tambura for the next seven years. In the early 1960's, he played on and off with various groups, and in 1965 and 1966, played steadily with the "Drina Orchestra". In 1967, he joined "Dunav", playing second brac and cello with the likes of Carl Schutzman, Steve Paulich, Steve Vucinic, Jack Tomlin, George 'Whitey' Halaschak, Tony Markulin and Melvin Dokich. Richie played steadily with "Dunav" until December 1975, when he became seriously ill.
In April 1976, Rich had open heart surgery which halted his musical career for six years. In 1982, he was asked to fill in with the Banat Orchestra, for what was to be only two engagements.
Today, we are happy to tell you that Richie is still with the Banat Orchestra, along with Phil Stripancic, Tommy Goyack, and George 'Whitey' Halaschak. Tamburitza music has always been a part of Richie's life, and it's in his blood forever. He will continue to play Tambura on a part-time basis as long as he is able.
Richard Savage was originally placed in the Hall of Fame with the entire Skertich Brothers Orchestra in 1974. However, for the last nine years his name had inadvertently been omitted from the Hall of Fame roster. To correct this unfortunate mistake, the executive committee of the Tamburitza Association of Americ has decided to award Richie Savage the recognition that has long been overdue.