It all started in Beaver Valley for Grammy-nominated producer, industry mogul
Every award-winning, chart-topping album Rex Rideout has appeared in can probably be attributed to his time in Beaver Falls.
Rideout is a Grammy-nominated producer, songwriter, and record label manager. A veteran of the music industry for over 20 years, he has worked with iconic artists ranging from Luther Vandross, Kem and Ledisi to current hip-hop star Kendrick Lamar. His songwriting and production work has earned him several Billboard No. 1 albums and over 20 Top-Ten Adult Urban Radio singles.
His overall development as a producer took him to upper circles with Quincy Jones, David Foster, Stevie Wonder and Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds.
Rideout’s career began in the South Side section of Pittsburgh called Beltzhoover. For reasons mainly related to finding a less urban environment for their children, her parents, Stanley Rideout and Bina (Crable) Rideout, moved the family (Suzanne, Rex and Jim) to the dormitory community of Sewickley in the early 2000s. 1970s.
While generating an interest in athletics, Rex Rideout played basketball while briefly attending Quaker Valley High School. He eventually graduated from the private high school known as Sewickley Academy. There he obtained a full college scholarship to the University of Pittsburgh, where he studied chemical engineering. He was eventually transferred to Geneva College in Beaver Falls, where he obtained a degree in business administration.
In Pitt, Rideout joined a few Pittsburgh-based groups namely Gazelle Band & Show and Silk Band with Rodney McCoy.
“At the time, I had no idea my adult life would be focused on music as a career,” he said. “I’ve always had an interest in playing keyboards, but I’ve never really taken formal piano lessons.”
Rideout thanks his father’s younger brother for sharing his pianist skills with him when he was a tic. “Uncle Buddy (Arthur Rideout Jr.) was a great ear player. He taught me so much. But I was also lucky to have a good ear and a fantastic memory,” said recently Rex Rideout reflecting from his family home in Southern California.
His grandfather, Arthur Rideout Sr., was a big band conductor from Pittsburgh and once featured legendary jazz pianist Earl Kenneth “Fatha” Hines, the product of Duquesne, PA.
Rex Rideout also jammed with Aliquippa-based band Rare Experience, having met the band’s saxophonist, Vastine “Winky” Pettis, while the two were attending Pitt. Although he never officially performed with the band, he and Winky are still longtime musical collaborators.
Rideout credits his time in Beaver County as essential to the development of his keyboard.
“Before Geneva, I didn’t take music very seriously. I would go to the student union and hit a few deals – but then people started to take notice, ”he said.
“Next thing, I was playing gospel music as part of the Friends of Beaver County gospel troupe.”
Rideout eventually teamed up with internationally renowned gospel artist Richard Smallwood. “I moved to DC to study with him, and his knowledge certainly enhanced my talent for vocal harmony and my production skills.”
He thanked the late Darrell McMillion and Marpressa Mobley, both of Tabernacle Baptist Church, Beaver Falls, for his development as a gospel player and for his connection to Smallwood.
It was also in Geneva that he met a colleague keyboardist named Bobby Baldwin. Baldwin has become a renowned creator of what is known as the New Urban Jazz genre.
After college, Rideout tried his hand at corporate sales rep for RJ Reynolds and Bristol Meyers. While living in Atlanta, he befriended bassist Ronnie Garrett, who was then related to the late Isaac Hayes and the late Donald Byrd. Garrett, now a musical film producer for Tyler Perry, immediately helped him improve his studio skills, Rideout said.
“This is where I learned that working in the studio can lead to a real profession,” he said. “In Atlanta, I was surrounded by real musicians who worked in the industry and didn’t take their music studio experience for granted.”
After trying another corporate job in Lexington, Ky., Rideout took his music career to another plateau by moving to New York City. There he landed a jingle writing job for companies such as Coca-Cola, General Motors and the WNBA. Word quickly spread about the talented new keyboardist of the Big Apple. Through good “word of mouth” he landed a gig with legendary jazz vibraphonist Roy Ayers, who had long-standing ties to the Pittsburgh jazz scene, including musicians like the late trumpeter John “Squirrel. Mosley and saxman Tony Campbell.
“With Roy, I traveled the world. It was a fantastic experience. I have met so many people and learned so much on the road, ”said Rideout.
He has also toured with the late jazz saxophonist George Howard and the late jazz violinist Noel Pointer.
As a producer he has worked on several Grammy nominated projects for artists like Vandross, Ledisi, The Temptations, Lalah Hathaway and most recently, BJ The Chicago Kid and Kendrick Lamar.
He has also worked with Boney James, Will Downing, Gerald Albright, Joe Sample and Dave Hollister.
“It has been a very rewarding career, a career that I never imagined would one day happen,” said Rideout. This spring, he appeared on the national television network TV One’s production “Unsung”, while he was in the studio as a producer for lead singer Ledisi.
Rideout previously held executive positions such as Vice President of A&R for Motown / Universal Music Group from 2011 to 2016, where he signed with renowned urban / soul artist, BJ The Chicago Kid. He has also directed projects for frontline and heritage Motown artists Erykah Badu, Toni Braxton and Babyface, India Arie and Kem.
Rideout is currently a partner of management firm Benchmark Entertainment and co-lead of 4/4 Sound, a joint venture with eOne Entertainment. He is an active member of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) and the American Society of Composers Authors and Publishers (ASCAP).
Rideout resides in Los Angeles with his wife of 28 years, Joi (Huckaby) Rideout. They have two children, a daughter, Kendall, a 21-year-old Harvard student, and Matthew, a 16-year-old basketball player and guitarist.
Although he appreciates his life’s accomplishments to date, Rideout, at 60, is not entirely satisfied with his professional accomplishments.
“I always have goals and aspirations. It’s always a chore – but I’m always looking for my greatest moment. I don’t feel like I’m coasting. I want to do something that lasts and that be respected enough to make a mark for my children – as I continue to grow as a musician and businessman.
Timothy Cox is a native of Beaver Falls, professional musician and freelance journalist for various national publications including The Times. He can be contacted at [email protected]