The guy whose looks, musicianship, and demeanor made him one of the coolest guys on the local rock scene in the 1970s and 1980s has died after a motorcycle accident on July 22 in Aransas Pass.
Richard “Rich” Mauch was 59.
Mauch was called Rick growing up. But in 1972 he joined Savvy, a newly formed local rock band that already boasted a Rick — founder and drummer Rick Miller.
Mauch wasn’t fazed.
“He said, ‘Ah, just call me Rich.’ On the spot he’s ready to change his name,” Savvy guitarist Steve Jones recalled. “He’d never been Rich before. He reinvented himself at that moment for the good of the band.”
Miller started Savvy in 1971 but went through early roster changes.
“We had a guitar player that just wasn’t cutting it,” he said. “Rich played a couple of songs with us and we knew right away he was our guy. He had that look about him as a guitar player. He had this rock ‘n roll look about him.”
Mauch remained with the band for 14 years. He was an aggressive, attacking guitarist but with a tasteful approach. And he had a soulful, raspy voice that his bandmates compared to Rod Stewart.
“Between his flashy guitar playing, the edge he brought, his rock ‘n roll look — he was a good-looking guy who brought the women in — and, of course, his singing, he was the entire package,” Miller said.
Savvy disbanded in 1986 and Mauch remained in the area for a few more years as an assistant manager at clubs owned by the Miller family. In 1990, he moved to Aransas Pass. He became a master pipefitter and was on his way to work on a Friday morning when his motorcycle collided with a pickup on a highway.
He is survived by his wife, Sandi; sons Christian Mauch of Fort Worth and Christopher Tabor of Seattle; daughters Vandy Cespedes of Fort Worth and Michelle Garza of Nashville; and his mother, brother, sister, and grandchildren.
Savvy was one of Fort Worth’s busiest bands and performed for years at Savvy’s Nightclub on East Lancaster Avenue. The band’s popularity soared after singer and guitarist Ricky Lynn Gregg joined in 1979. The dueling lead guitar attack of Gregg and Mauch provided an exciting sound, and both were considered heartthrobs on stage.
One night, Gregg carried a new guitar on stage, a beautiful B.C. Rich Bich. Not to be outdone, Mauch bought a brand new B.C. Rich Mockingbird a short time later and proudly showed it to his bandmates.
“I grabbed it and lifted it up — and put it right in the ceiling fan,” Jones said. “It put a little nick in the neck. I felt horrible. I said, ‘I’m so sorry.’ He was like, ‘Oh man, don’t worry, they don’t even play right until they get that first scratch.’ He was the nicest, coolest guy. I called him the Fonzie of the 1980s.”
In recent years, Mauch made a habit of telling his former bandmates how happy he was living in Aransas Pass with his wife of 16 years.
“Everytime he would call it was almost a carbon copy of the last conversation, telling us about his house in the country — he had 10 dogs, eight of them lived inside,” Miller said. “It was an indication he’d finally settled into life, he had a good job, a good marriage, a wonderful home, the dogs he adored. Being in the rock ‘n roll business, people have an impression you’re just going to be an old guitar player playing in a smoky bar somewhere, and you’re never going to have the white picket fence. But he had it. He might have even surprised himself. I think that’s why he liked to talk about it so much.”
A memorial was held in Aransas Pass. Mauch’s bandmates are organizing a local one as well. Details to come.