Keyboardist/songwriter Dennis Richardson wrote Instant Funk's seminal classics "No Stoppin' That Rockin'," "Everybody," (co-wrote), "Slap Slap Lickedy Lap," the skaters' favorite "Gotta Like That" (co-wrote), and "It's Your Love on My Mind." For the band's mentor singer/songwriter/producer Bunny Sigler, he co-wrote "By the Way You Dance," as well as "I'll Keep You Warm" for the 1979 Salsoul Orchestra LP How High and "My Heart Belongs to You" on the 1979 Casablanca LP Party Girl by Patty Brooks. Richardson played piano on "Shame," a million-selling single by Evelyn "Champagne" King. He can also be heard on sides by the O'Jays ("So Full of Love," "The Year 2000"/"My Favorite Person"), Lou Rawls ("Sit Down and Talk to Me"/"Let Me Be Good to You"), Cashmere (The Best of Cashmere), and Rose Royce ("All I Wanna Do"). Richardson's frequent writing partner was Instant Funk bandmate, guitarist George Bell.
The Trenton, NJ, native began playing keyboards at age 16, having been born into a family of musicians. It may surprise funk fans that Richardson's primary training was in classical music. Later, he began listening to the keyboard stars of the day like Stevie Wonder and Billy Preston. Bassist Raymond Earl of Philly soul band Instant Funk was dating a girl across the street from Richardson's house. A chance meeting resulted in Earl inviting Richardson to a band rehearsal. When Richardson went with Earl to watch as the band recorded a session for Evelyn Champagne King, the piano player didn't show up. Richardson was invited to fill in and the result was his first professional recording session. Richardson ended up playing on King's debut LP, Smooth Talk, which was produced by T. Life and recorded for the most part at Joe Tarsia's Sigma Sound Studios and Alpha International Studios.
Richardson played on Sigler's debut album for M.F.S.B. guitarist/producer/songwriter Norman Harris' Goldmind Records, which was distributed by New York-based Salsoul Records: Let Me Party With You from early 1978 ("Let Me Party With You [Party, Party, Party]," the number eight R&B hit "I Got What You Need," and the disco hit, "Your Love Is So Good"). Based on this success, Sigler got a deal with Goldmind for Instant Funk, who had expanded from the original lineup of Earl, drummer Scotty Miller, and guitarist Kim Miller into a ten-piece band with horns. Richardson was added to the lineup. By the time, the band's album (the band's first LP was Get Down With the Philly Jump, released in 1976 on Gamble & Huff's TSOP label) was ready to be issued, Goldmind had folded and all of its acts were transferred to Salsoul. Instant Funk's first Salsoul release was the 1978 single "I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)." A year after its release date, the record was remixed by garage club Larry Levan and that's when "I Got My Mind Made Up (You Can Get It Girl)" went on to be Instant Funk's million-selling breakthrough hit parking at number one R&B for three weeks.
A self-titled album, Instant Funk, was issued January 1979, going gold, reaching number one R&B and number 12 pop in spring 1979. Richardson co-wrote the ethereal ballad "Never Let Me Go Away." The LP's other highlights were the follow-up single "Crying" and the radio-aired pop jazz-instrumental "Wide World of Sports." The CD reissue of the LP was released in 1995 and 1999. Other Instant Funk albums on Salsoul were: Witch Doctor, released November 1979, originally issued as a DJ-only double record set; The Funk Is On, released October 1980; Looks So Fine, released spring 1982 (listed the skating-rink favorite "Gotta Like That"); V (5), released January 1983 ("No Stoppin' That Rockin'" and a rollicking version of the Beatles' "Hard Days Night"); and Kinky, released September 1983.
Richardson can be heard on Sigler's other Salsoul albums, I've Always Wanted to Sing...Not Just Write Songs and Let It Snow. The keyboardist worked with Sigler on his outside productions which include Curtis Mayfield (Heartbeat), the Pips (Callin'), Double Exposure (Locker Room), and Loleatta Holloway (Queen of the Night). Richardson left Instant Funk in the mid-'80s.
Through fellow SBK Publishing signee Joseph B. Jefferson, Richardson began working with producer/remixer Nick Martinelli playing on both original and/or remixed sessions for Loose Ends, Jermaine Stewart, Phyllis Hyman ("When You Get Right Down to It"), Ruffin, and Kendricks, among many others. Becoming a born-again Christian, Richardson opened his own Rising Son Christian Recording Studio in Trenton, NJ. During spring 2000, Richardson was recording sides on Minister Al Matlock and Vanessa Jordan. ~ Ed Hogan, Rovi