Full name: Richard John Oakes
Position in Suede: guitarist, songwriter
Birthplace: Perivale, West London
Birthday: Friday – October 1, 1976
Sibling(s): Kate, Stephan
Favourite insult: Cobblers!
Lifelong ambition he had achieved: No.1 album
Lifelong ambition he hadn’t achieved: No.1 single
What he was on his previous life: stray cat
What he wants to be carved on his gravestone: Cobblers!
Richard Oakes was raised in Poole, Dorset although he was born in London. His first contact with guitars was when he stumbled on his sisters’ Spanish guitar and he was learning chords ever since. The record that turned his way into music was “The Story Of The Clash” when he was 12. He used to have a band called “TED” with his mate Pete before he joined Suede. He replaced Bernard Butler after beating hundreds of other candidates in an audition. The first time he played for Suede was on the Tops of the Pops while his first appearance in a live show took place in a secret gig at London’s Raw Club on October 7, 1994. The first song he played live was We Are The Pigs.
Richard went to a Suede gig once before he joined in and it was the first concert he’d ever been to. Later on he heard about Bernard’s departure and he knew he could do something for the band. He recorded a demo using a Yamaha keyboard as his backing music and he sent it along with a letter to Suede. He confessed that in the letter he didn’t write ‘Please let me play for Suede’; he wrote ‘Take me or leave me’ and that’s what they liked. While Brett was listening to the demo tape, Simon walked in and thought that it was a long forgotten Suede tape. In the audition Richard was pretty sure that he’d got the job. He played Heroine in his first audition, and played The 2 Of Us in the second audition after the band realized that he could play piano. Their mouths were telling him to come back the next week but their eyes were saying that he got the job, he said. So he went home and he told his cat that he’s got it. He officially joined Suede in September 17, 1994, exactly 2 weeks before his 18th birthday.
The first video he starred in was We Are The Pigs while the first song he wrote for Suede was Together. Richard usually washes his face before performing and he’s the only member who–infrequently–drinks beer before going on stage. About sports, he would love to do decathlon. Richard loves to sleep a lot. He’s the only Suede member who doesn’t smoke; also the only one who’s totally not a vegetarian.
He’s known to be very confident about himself, which is good. Brett revealed once that although Richard is much younger than him, Richard could be much more mature in writing songs. Richard, as Bernard did, plays a red Gibson.
His mother, Maureen Oakes, once worried about him joining Suede at the tender age of 17. “He seemed so young and the rock and roll lifestyle is notorious isn’t it? But he doesn’t even smoke!”, she revealed. She also admits that she was happy to see Richard gained weight in the run-up to the release of Head Music. She said it’s better to over-indulge in food than in drugs.