Already at the age of 17 he was the youngest guitar player ever to be submitted to the Hilversum Conservatory, a conservatory best known for it’s strong jazz history drawing musician’s from all over Europe. Richard studied with jazz legend Wim Overgaauw and graduates with a master’s degree after a 6-year study of jazz, composition and improvisation. After his graduation, in 1989 Richard joins his first pop group called ‘What A Gig’. Soon after he joins the band, they become the winner of the Dutch ‘Yamaha Band Explosion’ contest. The Yamaha Band Explosion is a world wide talent search for bands writing their own material. The grand finale was held summer 1989 at the Budokan Hall, Japan, Tokyo where the band plays for a 17,000 people screaming Japanese audience. In the jury were, a.o. Bon Jovi, Europe singer Joey Tempest and Casiopea guitarist Issei Noro. Hallebeek and his band finished fourth with their song “Question of Love’ and they join Jon Bon Jovi for the encore onstage, together playing The Beatles classic ‘Get Back’.
In 1993 Richard was chosen out of more then 350 entries to take part in the International Ibanez Guitar Award with 8 other players to fight for the title of ‘Best All round Player’. The finale was happening in Ahoy, Rotterdam and in the jury were a.o. Alex Skolnick (Testament) and Dutch session ace Lex Bolderdijk. Performing the Jazz Standard ‘Road Song’, the Rock Classic ‘After Midnight’ in an ‘all instrumental’ version and playing an unaccompanied solo, Hallebeek became the second price winner and took home the 2nd price; a little 15 W amp and practised some more.
Besides practising, Richard plays steady gigs in a variety of different groups, he teaches and does countless sessions and studiowork for radio, movies, commercials, (Dutch PTT Phonecompany, Hooghoudt, Region Police, Fokker, etc.etc.) and TV.
In 1994 he receives a scholarship for a foreign study from the Prins Bernhard Fonds. At the end of ’94 he leaves to Los Angeles for a one year study at the Musician’s Institute to study ear training, composition and improvisation. He studies with Scott Henderson, Dan Gilbert, TJ Helmerich and Brett Garsed, a.o. He graduates after a year with an honors degree.
It’s at his new home at Orchid Avenue, Hollywood, where Richard meets his ‘improvising over strange chord progressions’ neighbor, Antti Kotikoski, a young guitar player from Finland. Antti has a big influence on the way Richard looks at music, composing and improvising. Together they team up to do a weekly performance at the Musician’s Institute with various musician’s at first, but later notably with Jan Fabricky on drums and J.Kleutgens on bass. Their goal is to write strong material, while still staying true to their guitar roots and leaving a lot of room for improvisation. With their music ranging from rock, fusion, jazz to pop and heavy riffs they gain quite a following at their weekly perfomances at the school and also throughout L.A. They continue to perform all year and record their first album in the M.I. studio, (now known as ‘Tommy Tedesco’ studios where numerous artists have recorded CD’s since the first recordings of Richard and Antti) which was an initiative from engineer and eight finger tapping guitar wonder TJ Helmerich. Some players who stop by to jam at those recording dates are Scott Henderson, M.I. teacher Dan Gilbert, Carl Verheyen and Frank Gambale.
At the end of ’94, Richard gets a phonecall from guitar guru Mark Varney well know for his monthly ‘Spotlight Column’ in Guitar Player and his Legato Records label who had featured so many great players Richard was heavily into before moving to L.A. Mark had heard some rumors about two hot new players and was interested in hearing some music.
At the beginning of ’95 Richard and Antti sign a four album contract with the Legato label and Mark Varney. The first CD ‘Generator’ was released in November ’96. Featured on that album are also Scott Henderson, (Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul) Frank Gambale, Dan Gilbert, Scott Kinsey (Keyboardist from Tribal Tech) and Carl Verheyen (Probably the most recorded guitarist in L.A session history.)
In ’97 after returning back to Amsterdam, Holland, ‘True Colors’, from Richard’s rock group Maximum Brain Disfunktion is printed in a small quantity and sold at local gigs around Holland.
Rich also starts gigging around with drummer René Engel, probably best known for his CD project ‘Jazz Sick’ with Mike Stern and Danny Gottlieb.
In ’98 Richard tours Finland, Germany and Holland to support the ‘Generator’ cd.
In march ’98 Rene Engel’s ‘Spheres of Samarkand’ is released with lots of guitar work from Richard. Featured on that CD are also:Jeroen de Rijk (Mezzoforte) and Nippy Noya (percussion legend). In 2002 Rene Engel’s ‘Nostalgia’ is released which further showcased the style of Richard.
Richard starts writing for the Dutch music magazine ‘Music Maker’ as a reviewer, tests new gear and interviews all of his favorite guitarists, sometimes twice.
The beginning of 2000 brings a welcome distraction from the usual: Richard plays a 6 month tour, playing 6 nights a week, performing 145 gigs of Händel’s classical masterpiece ‘The Young Messiah’ throughout Holland, Germany and Belgium.
Besides being a much in demand sideman, in 2003 Rich thinks it’s about time to do it his way, all the way. He initiates the Richard Hallebeek Project and gets help from some of his musical friends: Shawn Lane and Brett Garsed both contribute four solos. The band consists of a few of his musical heroes, young drummer Bas Cornelissen and keyboard virtuoso Lale Larson both contribute songs for the RHP and are heavily involved in the creative process, making it more of a band effort. Within a month after it’s release on the new guitar oriented U.K. Liquid Note Records label, RHP tops guitar9.com being the best selling and most popular fusion album and the album gets rave reviews through out the world. RHP maintains a steady seller to this day throughout the world.
Richard also plays on more releases from Liquid Note Records: the two collection albums Alchemists I and II both feature Richard with different musicians, the last cd with drummer extra ordinaire Marco Minnemann.
In 2008, Richard plays an 8 month tour of 180 shows of his favorite musical HAIR, with a 32-piece cast throughout Holland, Belgium and Germany.
Between the HAIR story and the hippies, he writes and records ‘Go For It’ together with his favorite rhythm section consisting of Sebastiaan Cornelissen on drums and Frans Vollink on Bas. Trumpet legend Randy Brecker joins them on the album.
Recently, Richard returned the favor and has joined Lalle Larsson on his albums ‘Weaveworld’ and ‘Infinity Of Worlds’ in 2010.
Live, Richard has recently played the bigger guitar festivals in the last couple of years; he played the Ziua Chitarelor guitar festival in Boekarest in 2009 with Mattias Eklundh and Guthrie Govan. In 2010 he played the 2nd edition of Ziua Chitarelor with Greg Howe, Brett Garsed, Michael Angelo, Andy Timmons and William Stravato.
At the end of 2010, Richard headlined the ‘Meeting Of The Spirits’ festival in Leeuwarden, Holland together with Greg Howe and Carl Verheyen.
Over the past years, he has done two tours with Guthrie Govan and Jose de Castro in 2009 in Holland and Germany, the hugely attended gigs proving that instrumental guitar music is very much alive! Besides that, he maintains a role as steady guestteacher at the different Dutch conservatory’s where he explains his way of looking at scales, breaking them up and improvising through changes.
Recently, Richard is working on the follow-up to the Richard Hallebeek Project with the working title ‘Pain In The Jazz’, aiming for a 2011 release.
There have been interviews and reviews with and about Richard in the ‘Guitarist’ and the Dutch ‘Music Maker’, American ‘Guitar World’ and ‘Jazz Times’ and the Japanese ‘Young Guitar’ and the Italian ‘Axe’.
Richard Hallebeek has an endorsement with Suhr Guitars USA, HOOK amps and speaker cabinets and Fractal Audio FX and Atomic cabs. He has a habit of using too many pedals.
Richard is currently writing for a trio album with bass, drums and guitars that is planned for late 2017 and is working on his 4th instructional dvd for TrueFire.