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.


Condolence & Memory Journal

Gone, but never forgotten.
So be it , truly .

Posted by Lawrence Macks - Hamtramck, MI - Friend   April 16, 2016

I still miss u....

Posted by Nikki M - MI   April 08, 2016


Stopping in to pay our respects to a fine musician player who I knew for sometime. I know your doing okay re your visit not too soon after your passing as I asked how are you doing and you said "I'm doing okay". I never expected a visit from you but it did happen and thank you for that.

Posted by Zena Welk - Wayne, MI - Friend   April 08, 2016

A wonderful musician and a really nice person, we miss you Rick.

Posted by Wolfgang Spider - Plymouth, MI - Friend   April 07, 2016

My Deepest Sympathy to the family of Rick. I have a cd of Rick and will cherish it for a long time to come. It is sad to say, I being in the entertainment business and traveling the country never got to see him perform. But I have heard from many people and musicians that he was a GREAT talent. GOD BLESS YOU COUSIN and MAY YOU REST IN PEACE.

Posted by Bob Kobert(aka) Bobby Shawn - Canonsburg, PA - Cousin   April 18, 2014

Our thoughts and prayers are with you at this time. Rick will be truly missed. Even though it has been years since we have see Rick, he was always a joy to be around. Love from the Laughlin family.

Posted by Beth Peloquin - Jupiter, FL - Friend   April 16, 2014

I'll definitely cherishes the many memories of spending time with Rick and some of my most favorite have to be our times golfing together. I'll never forget Rick's constant striving for perfection in his swing, strategy working around the course and especially his free advice from watching countless hours of Golf Channel instruction programs. I'll also always remember the times playing golf with Rick and his Dad when we would go out as a threesome and the course would match us up with a single and we would introduce ourselves as Rick, Dick and Mick (affectionately known as the ick's by the Salansky family) and the person that got matched up with us would probably be thinking really?. Rick may you reach the perfection you were always striving for in your golf game where you are now and may you always hit-em-straight in heaven.
My other best memories that I'll never forget were hanging out with Rick from his early days just jamming/practicing in his basement with the Yazoo Brothers to the Memorial Day parties at his brother Dale's house on 21 Mile Rd. when the band would set-up in the garage. I also remember the good times that friends and family always had when we would come to see Rick play around town and especially when we would come see Mystery Train at Memphis Smoke. I'll never forget how proud I was to tell them that I was actually related to someone with your special kind of talent. I'm sure the pinnacle of your success and the highlight of my proudness of you came when we were able to see you on stage in the Detroit All-stars Band at Pine Knob as the warm-up band for B.B. King - one of your idols as well as one of mine. That will be a night that will be engrained in my memory forever.
You will be missed by me, by our family and I'm sure by many other lives that you touched but I can say that I know deep down in my heart that we were blessed to have you in our lives for the short time that we did and that our lives are all better for it.

Posted by Mick Salansky - Washington, MI - Cousin   April 14, 2014


Rest in peace, brother Rick.

Posted by Dennis Burr    April 12, 2014

I'm privileged to have been able to call Rick my friend. I treasure the times we spent on stage playing together, and I'll never forget him. Rest in peace, friend.

Posted by Dennis Burr - Chesterfield, MI - friend   April 12, 2014

A fine musician, a fine person, Rick will be missed.

Posted by Wolfgang Spider - Plymouth, MI - Fan   April 12, 2014

The nights up at the Blue Goose were the greatest seeing you up there. Watching you play the guitar with Mystery Train was a high lite in my life. I'll miss you my friend.

Posted by Keith Bartholomew - St. Clair Shores, MI - friend   April 12, 2014

Ona conna punna Rick!!! Thank you for being such a special person in my life. You taught me to trust, love and to enjoy red wine!!! Rest in peace my friend. Your music will live on and continue to touch all the people who loved you. xoxo

Posted by Carol - Roseville, MI - Friend   April 12, 2014

We were sad to hear that Rick had passed away this week. I have so many good memories of Rick from the time we spent in the youth group at Washington Baptist Church to the years spent playing the blues with the Yazoo Bros. in Mick's basement. He was truly the most talented person I have ever had the pleasure to have known. Gods Peace be with you old friend and all family and friends gathered in your memory.
Larry and Gloria Gloomis

Posted by Larry and Gloria Gloomis - Laurium, MI - friend   April 12, 2014

You took some dreams of mine with you when you left

It's okay ....I love you anyway..

xoxoxoxox's in heaven for all the stringmen...

Nikki James

Posted by Nikki James - Grosse Pointe Park, MI - Friend   April 11, 2014

Eric, my deepest sympathy to you and yours. I remember good times of sneaking through Memphis Smoke with you to see your Dad play. He was amazing. My thoughts and prayers are with you. May you find strength and peace in the light he left behind.

Posted by Jennifer Bouford - Oakland, MI - Friend   April 11, 2014

Rick was a wonderful musician and vocalist. I was glad to get to know him and work with him over these past few years. Warmest regards to his family and friends...

Posted by Pat Smillie - Chicago, IL - friend   April 11, 2014

Rick I've known you since I was a teenager and was married to you for sixteen years. The world is a little less bright without you. I hope you're with your mother and I hope you meet up with your old golf partner, my dad. RIP

Posted by Jackie MacDonald - Washington, MI - Mother of his son Eric   April 11, 2014


I missed gettin' to know you better and that it is a great loss. I am sorry you left so soon for you have been a good memory many a time.

Posted by Rick Hemmle - Ellenwood, GA - High school friend   April 11, 2014

Our deepest sympathies to Rick's family. I have fond memories of the band inviting me up to sing and Rick always made it easy for me to fit in. I was also lucky enough to golf with Rick one day when the band had a gig up in Alpena area. The musical memories are unmeasurable and he will be greatly missed by all.

Dave & Sandy
Fans from St. Clair Shores

Posted by Dave Flansburgh & Sandy Grockau - St. Clair Shores, MI - A Fan   April 11, 2014

Rick and I started a band in oh I don't know, 1970 I think. I played drums Rick played his Fender Stratocaster, Mark Slumpka played bass and Don Cavanaugh play keys. we practiced in my basement and played at local dances and other gigs. Rick was a gifted player. I remember him in love with Johnny Winter and the blues. Which sucked for us drummers. but man rick could play. Good singer too.
Our big gig back then was playing a Homecoming dance in 1972 for my cousins high school in Napoleon Ohio fueled by some of my uncle's dandelion wine.
I think about Rick from time to time. Although I haven't seen or spoken to him since then. I fondly reflect on those formative times we had together as band mates and team mates.
May God bless Rick's family and provide comfort in his passing.
Bob Frye

Posted by Bob Frye - Nashville, TN - high school friend and band mate   April 11, 2014

Rick you were taken way too young. I will always have fond memories of being one of your first groupies back in the early 70's when you were playing with Bob Frye and Mark Slompka. Thanks for selling me your 12 string guitar and teaching me a few songs on it. See you in Heaven one day. I know you are rocking with the Lord and He's loving what He's hearing. RIP <3>
Jennifer (aka Doris Childers)

Posted by Jennifer Hooper - Los Angeles, CA - friend and groupie from the 70's   April 11, 2014


My love to this family <3>

Posted by Stella Rothe - Sterling Heights, MI   April 11, 2014


We go through life hoping that we can be a good person who is compassionate, gentile and kind, have a positive impact on others, bring joy to others, make people smile, and be a loving and generous person. Rick, you have succeeded and have left an impact on so many more people than you ever imagined due to your kind and humble nature, the dedication and pride you took in your engineering work, and your incredible talent and passion for music that you graciously shared with so many.
You have left footprints that we all admire and can only hope to equal. Today is an incredibly sad day, but we take comfort in knowing that you are no longer hurting and you are now able to rest in peace in a better place.
May God bless you.

Posted by Dwight Martindale - Washington, MI   April 11, 2014

I am honored to call you my friend Rick. You know, I was trying to recall you ever saying anything bad about anybody. I couldn't come up with anything. You made this world a better place and made my life so much richer. Until we meet again. As they say in the old Cowboy's Prayer, "Welcome to heaven Cowboy, your entry fees are paid."

Posted by Bobby Murray - Detroit, MI - Friend   April 11, 2014


Extremely sorry for your loss. May The Lord give you strength thru this difficult time.

Posted by Jeff Deneweth - Clinton Township, MI - co worker   April 11, 2014


A talented and warm MusicMaker!

Posted by Elayne Sikelianos - Detroit, MI - friend, fan   April 11, 2014

Such a beautifully worded obituary a nice tribute. Was deeply saddened to hear of Rick's passing. A great talent who was much needed to make his music heard in heaven. May God wrap you all in His loving comforting arms and give you peace.

Posted by Diana Samuel Wilczewski - TX - Friend from long ago   April 11, 2014

Dear Rick, you leave am impression on my heart , I will remember you always . Rest in Peace my friend !

Posted by Lisa W - Troy, MI - Friend   April 11, 2014

Dearest Dick, Eric, Laura, & Family, we're so sorry for the loss of your loved one .Rick was special and so was his music . Our thoughts and prayers are with you all during this sad time. Our deepest Sympathy, Robin & Mike Fla.......

Posted by Robin & Mike Preziosi - Deerfield Beach, FL - Friends from Deer Creek   April 11, 2014


Richard Salansky Sr., We are saddened by the loss of your son Rick and know well that your faith and trust in God will bring support to your family during this difficult time. Our sincere condolences to Rick's son and his dearest loves. Rest in peace Rick.

"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die". - Thomas Campbell

Posted by Joe and Candace Davi - Orlando, FL - Friend of the family   April 10, 2014


Used to see Rick at the Goose on jam nights and sometimes when the band was playing. Very talented guitarist and vocalist. His kindness will be missed but love in the fact that he is with our creator and savior Jesus Christ in the most wonderful place Heaven. He will not hurt ever again and always keep that smile that Rick always had on his face that we will cherish forever and ever.

Tommy Curcuru

Posted by Tommy Curcuru - St. Clair Shores, MI - Accquaintance   April 10, 2014


Rick was an Excellent Worker and an Excellent Musician. Holding a conversation with him was very interesting as well. He will be missed.

Posted by Daniel Birg - Marine City, MI - Co-Worker   April 10, 2014


May music lift your new wings

Posted by Paula Marie Deubel - Sterling Heights, MI - friend of family   April 10, 2014

My Colleague, my neighbor, my friend. It has been a fun ride. From being your cube-mate in years past at GM, to admiring your profound musical talents, our shared inside jokes about our German colleagues, sharing your passion for eating right and knowledge of the proper herbs my wife and I now use for health reasons. I feel blessed to have witnessed and enjoyed your greatest talents of playing guitar and your distinct vocals. Wish my wife could have experienced your gifts after we shared dinner with you at the EDAG Christmas party. I hope you've found both abounding golf greens and leafy greens on the other side. Thanks for the ride my friend, may God bless you and the entire Salansky family.

Posted by Craig Pichette - Utica, MI - Friend   April 10, 2014

Fondest of memories, Rick. R.I.P. my friend.

Posted by Les Hall - Gaylord, MI - Classmate   April 10, 2014

My deepest sympathies Eric to you and your family. You're father had a major impact on my life. When I was a teenager he seemed larger than life to me. I am I sorry I didn't get a chance to see or talk to him over the last year at least one more time. When ever I did get to see him, his face would always light up when he saw me. Even though we didn't get to talk much he was always interested in what I had to say and he was always telling me about you and how you where doing. He was always so proud.

I wouldn't be on the path I am on in my life right now if you had never introduced me to him some 20 years ago.

I'm truly sorry for your lose.


Posted by Dylan Dunbar - Saint Clair Shores, MI - Friend   April 10, 2014


Dear sweet Rick, out time together might have only been for a year, but I know our relationship will continue throughout eternity. You are and will continue to be loved and missed.....
Your Renee

Posted by Renee Lock - Allen Park, MI - Close aquaintance   April 10, 2014

I fell for Rick the first time I met him in the Roadhouse parking lot in Ann Arbor. So nice so good-looking and of course he was one of the best players around. I had such a crush. Every time he came to Ann Arbor became an event. So youthful and seemingly healthy, it's hard to believe he's gone. My life is diminished for it but I'm glad your suffering is over wonderful guy. I never told you in life but love to you.

Posted by Maureen Ferrell - Ann Arbor, MI - Fan and acquaintance   April 10, 2014


Eric and Family,
My deepest Sympathy. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Posted by Tina Marie Veasey - Southfield, MI - Eric's Co-worker   April 10, 2014

My wonderful sweet bf! I love you! Thankyou for just being you! Oh how I miss you so.I will never forget you and I will never forget that look on your face when my daughter kept saying you look just like George Clooney! Ha!You secretly loved that!( teehee.) When we sang our song together with you on piano how awesome it sounded. And then you busted out the guitar one night and we sang the Blues! We were good together.When you "Stand on that mountain" this time the angel is YOU! I shall meet you there someday but until then fly away my angel, my love. I love you honey xoxo Nikki

Posted by Nikki Miljan ~Detroit Blues Baby~ - St. Clair Shores, MI - girlfriend   April 10, 2014

I'm so very sorry of the loss of Rick. I didn't know him well, but heard him play and was blown away. We briefly spoke one night and I remember saying to him... I know who you are! :)
May God rest his soul in peace and his music will live on.

Posted by Karal - Utica, MI - Fan   April 10, 2014

I'll always love you bro. , r.i.p.

Posted by larry macks - Hamtramck, MI - friend   April 10, 2014

So sad to hear this he was such a nice man. Rest in peace Rick.

Posted by Marie Coom - Washington, MI - neighbor many years ago   April 10, 2014


Thank you for having crossed my path and filling it with melodies, hugs, smiles, conversation and memories. I wonder if you ever really knew just how many lives you've touched in such a way. Until we all meet again, may warm hugs and well wishes fill the path of your new journey.

Posted by Lauren (Elle) Jenkins - MI - Friend   April 09, 2014


For a friend out of touch but close at heart. RIP Rick.

Posted by Sharon Zalewski    April 09, 2014

Rick was an excellent guitar player and a multi-talented musician. He was a class act and had ZERO ego. He will surely be missed play all of those who lives he has touched

Posted by Steve Allen - Oxford, MI - Fellow Musician   April 09, 2014

Rick will be missed . My condolences to the Salansky family.
I've known Rick since Junior High having shared the same home room class. And, had the honor of playing a few tunes with him in the early days. Seeing him play out and about in some of Detroits blues clubs was a real treat. He was truly an accomplished musician and a good guy.
God bless.

Posted by Paul Thomas - Washington Twp, MI - Friend   April 09, 2014

To the family of Rick

I only knew Rick from his music. It was always friendly and fun. We had a few laughs at Freddys or Blue Goose. The last time I saw him was at Ernies we were both there to see Mainstreet Soul.. So very very sorry for your loss

Posted by Janet Falendysz - Clitnton Twp - acquaintance   April 09, 2014

I met Rick back around 2002 along with his cousin Mic when I was assigned to work on the GMT 201 program. (GM minivan program) Rick was my body harness designer. Rick was a great designer. He could model anything you asked of him. Unfortunetly, GM cancelled the program but we continued to remain friends and co-workers until the end.
Rick also had the gift of gab. He knew something about everything but unlike most people who claim that, he really did.
I enjoyed listening to his stories from the golf course to the stage as a accomplished guitar player.

It will not be the same walking by Rick's empty desk. He will be missed sorely by everyone who knew him.

Rick, Rest In Peace my friend. May you find the perfect repeatble golf swing and unbreakable guitar strings up in Heaven. You may even chuckle while you look down at us knowing you are in a better place then on the 5th floor of the GM VEC
Peace my friend
Todd Sturm.

Posted by Todd Sturm - Warren, MI - C0-worker   April 09, 2014

Family Album

Rick at The Blue Goose July 2013
My beautiful, wonderful boyfriend! I will love you forever! Thankyou for just being YOU! And when you "Stand on that mountain" the "Angel" this time is YOU! I shall meet you there someday! I love you honey! xoxo Nikki
My baby and me!
Nikki and Silly Rick!