Richard Bishop was born in Saginaw, Michigan in 1960. He is best known for his 26 year involvement with the band Sun City Girls (1981-2007) and as an experimental solo guitarist whose work often reflects the shadow worlds of India, the Middle East, North Africa, and other points along the Gypsy trail.
Bishop technically began playing the guitar when he was 11, after his parents bought him a cheap Buck Owens styled red, white and blue guitar. He took guitar lessons for about three weeks but it didn’t ‘take’. When he was 15 he began again and proceeded to teach himself how to play the instrument. By age 18 he and his brother Alan were performing together while in college, mainly in coffee houses, seedy bars and at parties.
Both Bishops left Michigan in 1979 and settled in Phoenix, AZ, continuing to perform together, mainly among the city’s open mic circuit. In 1981 the brothers joined up with drummer Charles Gocher and formed the long-running underground group Sun City Girls, who during their 26 years produced an extensive discography of over 50 full length albums, 20 one-hour cassettes and a dozen 7” records. Also in the early 1980s Richard was a member of the group Paris 1942 which included Alan Bishop, J. Akkari (Jesse Srogoncik) and former Velvet Underground drummer Moe Tucker.
Bishop’s first solo record, Salvador Kali, was released by John Fahey’s esteemed Revenant Records label in 1998. It was issued under the name of Sir Richard Bishop (the name stuck). The album showcases Bishop's own particular obsessions and roots, drawing from a variety of worldwide sources. Locust Music issued his second record, Improvika (2004), which consisted of nine extemporaneous pieces for solo acoustic guitar. Up next was Fingering the Devil (2006), which was recorded at an impromptu session at London’s Southern Studios on a day off during Bishop's 2005 European tour. This was followed by two more releases from Locust: Elektronika Demonika (2006), a recording of electronic sound experiments, containing no guitar at all; and While My Guitar Violently Bleeds (2007), featuring three extended compositions for acoustic and electric guitar. Richard's 30-minute film God Damn Religion, a seizure-inducing montage of occult imagery was released in 2008 on DVD, also by Locust.
In 2005, Bishop began performing full time as a solo artist, playing throughout Europe, Australia, and the United States.
Bishop's next album, Polytheistic Fragments, was released by the Drag City label in 2007. It includes works for acoustic, electric and lapsteel guitar, plus two piano compositions. In 2009, Drag City issued The Freak of Araby which was Bishop's tribute to late Egyptian guitarist Omar Khorshid as well as a celebration of the Middle Eastern music that Bishop's grandfather often played for him as a young child.
Richard has issued many albums on other labels such as Unrock, Ideologic Organ, Southern Lord, VDSQ, and more, while maintaining a continuing working relationship with Drag City.
In 2010, Bishop joined forces with fellow guitarist Ben Chasny (Six Organs of Admittance) and drummer extraordinaire Chris Corsano to create the group Rangda. Since then, three full length Rangda releases have been issued by Drag City (False Flag , Formerly Extinct , and The Heretic’s Bargain ), with additional LPs on Unrock and Ba Da Bing! Records.
Bishop's most recent full-length, Tangier Sessions, was released in 2015 by Drag City. It consists of a series of improvisations recorded in Tangier in 2014 using a 19th century parlor guitar of mysterious origin (pictured above).