Richard Keith Salansky

  • Born: May 24, 1953
  • Died: April 8, 2014
  • Location: Utica, Michigan

Lee-Ellena Funeral Home

46530 Romeo Plank Rd
Macomb Township, MI 48044
Tel. (586) 412-8999

Tribute & Message From The Family

When Richard Keith Salansky sat down at the piano or picked up any musical instrument to play it, you knew you were in for a real show. If you had the pleasure of hearing his music live or on recording, you knew you were listening to a true musical genius. For over forty years, Rick (as he was known by loved ones) gave us show after show; album after album. He shared his many gifts and talents with the world only seeking the approval of an always grateful audience. He delighted in nothing more than to see them toe-tapping, dancing and having a good time to his music. It is our turn now to honor this great man and reflect on the decades he devoted to his family, his friends and the craft that he loved so dearly and offered so freely.

It was the year 1953; the old crooners like Dean Martin, Eddie Fischer and Perry Como were dropping hit after hit and music was slowly entering into a new era of rock 'n roll amongst the younger crowd. It was into this exciting new era that Richard Keith Salansky would begin his life on May 24, 1953. He was the first born son and oldest of two children born to Richard and the Nancy Salansky (née Downs) in the bustling city of Detroit, Michigan. "He couldn't have been a happy baby," offers his father. "You could sit little Ricky in a play-pen, give him anything to play with and he would occupy himself for hours."

As he grew into a young man, Rick would devote much of his time to two main hobbies; sports and music. He was the quarterback in high school and was active on the baseball and basketball teams as well. His parents started him taking music lessons, but it was quickly realized by everyone that Rick was not to be held back by the strict structure of the musical notes on the page. There were too many keys on the piano and strings on the guitar to not try and use them all-and that is exactly what Rick taught himself to do. It was during this time that Rick would begin improving on his life's passion; as a self-taught musician honing his skills whenever afforded the opportunity.

Rick would start and join many bands during his lifetime; first with his brother, Dale, who performed as the Yazoo Bros., with the Detroit Blues Band, Mystery Train and The Rick Stel Project most notably. Ricks favorite music to perform was up-tempo Blues, specializing on the electric guitar and keyboards. Once he and his bands were heard, there was no question of who would be performing every weekend and they would have the club booked for the entire month! Rick could boast of performing with many of the musical celebrities of his day; he opened for B.B. King, backed Otis Rush, and had the pleasure of performing with legendary Detroit Blues performer, Willie D. Warren and countless others. But he always stayed humble and true to the fans that had recognized his talent years earlier. Rick received no greater pleasure than performing around the local clubs like Memphis Smoke and the Blue Goose week after week to his adoring fans.

After graduation from Utica High in 1971, Rick held several jobs; as a short-order cook at the Purple Pickle in downtown Utica, most notably. Rick would later be employed with Marsh Industries, a rubber-parts manufacturing company located in Chesterfield, Michigan. Here he would work his way up the corporate ladder, serving diligently for twenty years and retiring with the title of Supervisor.

Rick, always with a mind for design who kept up with the technological trends in all aspects of his life, decided his talents could be best utilized next with EDAG Engineering. After taking several courses in drafting and design at Macomb Community College, Rick would begin his career with EDAG as an Electrical Designer creating various types of instrument panels for General Motors. He would stay with the company until recent weeks when his health began to fail him.

During Rick's younger years, he learned quickly that playing in a band could promote you to a status with the ladies that could be the envy of other men and offer you many opportunities to meet and date a variety of adoring female fans. However in 1974, Rick decided it was time to stop "chasing girls down" and settle down with a nice young lady named Jackie. From their union came the pride of Rick's life, his son, Eric, in 1977. The family would move to Rick's home on Brownell Street in Utica in 1981 and enjoyed many happy times together.

Rick was a wonderful father and even with his busy work schedule and weekly performance gigs, he always made time to take Eric out in the backyard and toss around a few baseballs and perfect his baseball bat swing. The family took frequent trips Tennessee and Florida and Rick was always proud to introduce his son to the great musical artists he performed with. Though Rick's marriage to Jackie would not last, their love for the family they created and respect they shared for each other would stand the test of time.

During Rick's lifetime he would produce ten albums of blues music that could be considered nothing less than pure gold. He took his art very seriously and used his own voice on all the tracks and played nearly all the instruments heard on the albums. When not recording in the studio, Rick could be found hitting holes in one on his favorite golf courses. He enjoyed spending holidays with his family and keeping up with the many friends he had made over the years in the musical circuit and from work. His home reflected his life in many ways; from the countless albums including the works of Jimi Hendrix, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Eric Clapton and Albert Collins, to the two pianos; one in his living and one in his bedroom, Rick was surrounded by music. It's not hard to imagine Rick tapping his fingers, eyes closed and letting the music he loved sink deeper and deeper into his very soul all while reflecting on the many great artists he considered it a privilege to have jammed with.

After a three year battle against cancer, Richard Keith Salansky made his peaceful transition surrounded by his loving family on the morning of April 8, 2014. Though he has left us for a new life, we are grateful for this great man and his tremendous talent that he shared with the world. Thanks to his recordings, whenever we feel the pain of his loss, we can listen to his albums and realize he is never that far away. Rick will forever be immortalized in the music that he loved and created just for us.

He will be greatly missed.

Rick is survived by his son, Eric (Shanti) Salansky; grandson, Kaydin Ferguson; father, Richard J. (Laura) Salansky; brother, Dale (Laura) Salansky and many extended loved ones and dear friends.

Rick was preceded in death by his mother, Nancy Salansky.