Richard Laviolette Obituary, Death – We are unable to find the words to express how devastated we are to inform you of Richard Laviolette’s loss. Richard made the decision to seek MAiD (Medical Assistance in Dying) following the start of signs of Huntington’s disease this past fall and the rapid deterioration of those symptoms since May. He passed away peacefully on September 5, 2023, after receiving the treatment.
Richard is survived by his partner Sophia, his father Darrell, his sister Christine (Todd), his brother Matthew (Jessica), his siblings Oliver, Sullivan, Benjamin, and Liefe, and a huge and loving family of aunts, uncles, and cousins, as well as a great number of loyal friends and musical collaborators. Richard is also survived by a large number of friends and musical collaborators. Liefe, Oliver, Sullivan, and Benjamin are Richard’s children.
Richard was born in Port Colborne, Ontario, in 1982. He spent his childhood in Tara, which is located west of Owen Sound. When he was younger, he lived in a yellow brick house with bats in the attic. When he was in high school, he moved to a nearby hobby farm. His parents sang and played music together at home, his mother taught line dancing, and his father performed locally in a country cover band. His mother also taught line dancing. His family life was filled with music. They would participate in the rowdy and enormous Robinson family jam sessions that were conducted in his grandmother’s living room whenever his family traveled to Port Colborne.
Richard began experiencing major health problems about the same time that he began to play music for the first time. Richard was 12 years old when he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis and began learning to play the mandolin from his father. Soon after, he became proficient on the guitar, harmonica, and banjo. After they relocated to the farm, he purchased a drum kit and immediately began experimenting with and playing music with his pals. Sharp Pointy Stick was their high school band, which his brother started. His cousin Dave Snider subsequently joined the band and played in it. Even though they were underage, his brother encouraged them to perform at local pubs.
Richard came dangerously close to passing away at the age of 17, when the severity of his ulcerative colitis forced him to have a total colectomy that ultimately saved his life. Some of the drugs that were required for this procedure caused severe bone degradation, which resulted in the need for hip replacement surgery eleven years later, when the patient was 28 years old. Richard used playing and listening to music as a constant anchor, a rock, all throughout his life, even as he went through many other surgeries and dealt with a variety of health concerns.
When he presented the valedictorian speech at Chesley District High School, he took a hard left turn into parody and outrageous humor, which made his guidance counselor cry and his art instructor laugh. He also made the valedictorian speech at Chesley District High School. After that, he finished the final few credits of his grade thirteen year at Owen Sound Vocational Collegiate Institute. During that time, he lived in an apartment with his sister and his cousin Mike Hammond, and he became fast friends with other kids in his musical theater class.
After completing his secondary education, he wasted no time in relocating to Guelph, where he enrolled in the University of Guelph’s History program with the intention of later working in the education sector. During his time at school, he was able to make some lasting friendships and land a job hosting a karaoke night at a campus bar called Brass Taps Pub. When his previous band, Sharp Pointy Stick, disbanded, his new band, Crappy Roommate, continued playing classic rock covers in pubs all around the Guelph area. These performances garnered some positive attention and started Richard on the path toward establishing himself as an inspired performer and musician in the community.
Richard’s debut album, titled “Mary Carl” and released in 2005, was named after a close friend who shared the same name. On his very first tour, which was alongside Jiaqing Wilson-Yang, Richard performed songs from this album all throughout the Northeastern United States. After having most of their belongings taken out of the car when they were in Brooklyn, the two friends drove Richard’s $500 Pontiac “Spike” and became connected with the active and LGBT Anti-Folk movement in New York City by playing a gig at the SideWalk Cafe. Richard gifted the car to the pals. It was during this tour that they first experienced the ups and downs of being on the road. It was also during this tour that they made a lifetime friend in Griffin Epstein (of Griffin & The True Believers), who reaffirmed their belief that music was an effective means of bringing people together.