from The Fresno Magazine, July 2004
Rieber Hovde's piano playing is legendary
at the Daily Planet. The 65-year-old Fresnan has been performing there
five nights a week for the past twelve years. You'll often catch
him waving to customers as they enter and leave the restaurant, some
of whom stop to talk to the vibrant, friendly man. It's clear he's admired
not just for his incredible keyboarding skills, but for the person he is.
Born in Iowa in 1939 and
raised in Urbana, Illinois, Hovde began playing the Hammond Organ at the age
Rieber at the Hammond Organ, Green Valley
Green Valley, Illinois
Just six months later, he took first place in a talent
contest. Much of his experience was gained as a
child performing with his grandfather who was a former Vaudeville acrobat and musician. They had a regular stage show 'Troubadour' Act at the Green Valley Theater.
This exciting experience allowed him to earn enough money to purchase his first piano, which
in turn helped garner his brilliant career--a career
that has produced six records, and is still going strong today. In
high school, Hovde went on to perform in the local dance band of
Paul Karlstrom in Illinois and even appeared on radio and television in Pekin, Peoria, and Champaign, Illinois.
Urbana, High School
Urbana, IL 1956
Since then, he has performed
on cruise ships, in major hotel lounges and night chubs and at various other locations throughout the
United States mostly in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay Area. He was at the Claremont Hotel in Oakland, CA, for seven years.
However, while Hovde has undoubtedly led a colorful
life, it has not been without its ups and downs. Musically dyslexic,
he flunked out of the University of Illinois School of Music in 1958 due to his ADD and inability to read music.
This was followed by long nights behind the piano and
a growing addiction to alcohol.
The Sea Wolf
Oakland, CA 1987
joined an AA program at age 24 and had subsequent major depression two years later thus beginning his thirty years of sobriety.
He then returned to college at Parkland Junior College, the University of Illinois, and the University of California in Berkeley
where he earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and began a new
chapter in his life.
After receiving his degree,
Hovde decided to take a break from performing and went on to try teaching
special education. However, it didn't take long for him to realize
that he belonged behind the piano. Interestingly enough, this incident
set the precedent for a life-long pattern: all his attempts to lead
a conventional life have landed him right back where he seemingly belongs--performing
music. This is how he knows, he says, "that
I am destined to play music although it doesn't mean that it is all I can or will do. . It's what I do best." And he has
no plans of stopping any time soon. Hovde's secret to living a long
and happy life is this:
Enjoy your life, and
live with integrity
It's quite evident that
aside from being a gifted musician, Hovde is more importantly, a
gifted survivor. Thirty years of sobriety has taught him that he
can produce some of his best work sober. After a life-long battle
with reading music, he has finally gotten it down much better with the help of his ADD diagnosis and medications. Hovde seems
aware that he is never too old to stop learning and achieving. Currently,
he has a recording studio in his home near Table Mountain, in Clovis,
CA, where he plans to record more music. He went on to receive
his master's degree at Fresno State University, and worked toward his doctorate in clinical psychology ending up which his PHD all but dissertation.
Rieber and grandson Dallas Patrick Hovde, son of Rip and Diana Hovde.
Celebrating a birthday, Clovis, CA 2010
Play it again, Rieber!
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