Rick Elias, a founding member of late CCM artist Rich Mullins’s A Ragamuffin Band, died Tuesday, April 2, following a battle with cancer. He was 64.
Elias was born Jan. 7, 1955 in San Diego, California. He attended Azusa Pacific University. After playing in bands including Harlequin, Vision, and the Rick Elias band, he moved to Los Angeles in 1984 and later signed with Alarma Records in 1990, to release the album Rick Elias and the Confessions; the single “Confession of Love” reached No. 4 on the Christian Top 40 chart.
From 1993 until 2002, Elias worked as a founding member of Mullins’s A Ragamuffin band. He also wrote and produced music that was included in movies such as That Thing You Do!, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Dawsons Creek and more. He produced artists including Mullins, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, Aaron Neville and others, and released four solo albums.
A benefit concert was held for Elias in February in Franklin, Tennessee to raise money for medical expenses. The concert featured performers from the original 1998 The Jesus Record, including Elias, Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and A Ragamuffin Band (Elias, Mark Robertson, Jimmy Abegg, and Aaron Smith). The Jesus Record had been scheduled as the ninth release from Mullins, before his untimely death in 1997. His foundation, A Ragamuffin Band, and record company determined to move forward with recording the project in his honor, alongside guest artists who were his friends. The project included two discs; Disc One — the nine rough song demos recorded by Mullins, and Disc Two — the studio version of the same songs, produced by Elias.
In addition, Elias’s work has received awards and nominations from the Gospel Music Association, The United Catholic Music and Video Association, and the Nashville Music Awards.
After relocating to Nashville, Elias became an adjunct instructor at the Contemporary Music Center in Brentwood, Tennessee, teaching music business classes, as well as becoming a real estate agent.
He is survived by wife Linda Tollner Elias. Together they have four children, sons Graham Griffith, Zack Elias and Taylor Elias, and daughter Amber Elias Gould (husband Hamilton Gould, and their two children).
Funeral information has not been released at this time.
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