Resident Rick Bleiweiss: Author, Publisher, Former Music Industry Executive and Retired Rock ‘n’ Roller

Rick Bleiweiss

Heron’s Key is home not only to some of the friendliest people you could have as neighbors but also some of the most enthralling. Take Rick Bleiweiss, for example, who moved into our community with his wife, Deborah Morgan, and their dog, a Havanese named Gracie, a few days after Thanksgiving.

Rick turned his early love of music into a multifaceted career as a performer, Grammy-nominated producer and senior executive at several well-known record companies. He then switched gears, channeling his lifelong enjoyment of writing into a new career as an award-winning author and a prodigious book publisher.

Along the way he has negotiated deals with, produced records for and befriended a long list of music’s luminaries, from country stars Alan Jackson and Clint Black to rappers Puff Daddy and Tone Loc, to disco stars Donna Summer and The Village People, to legendary rock bands Yes and U2. He was instrumental in launching the careers of Britney Spears, The Backstreet Boys and Melissa Etheridge, among other artists.

bleiweiss and other music artists

Rick’s latest book deals (through Blackstone Publishing) include the acquisitions of a recently published book co-written by actor Robert Downey Jr. and New York Times bestselling author Thomas Kostigen titled “Cool Food: Erasing Your Carbon Footprint One Bite at a Time” and Whoopi Goldberg’s soon-to-be-published memoir, “Bits and Pieces: My Mother, My Brother, and Me.”

Given the rich and rewarding life he has led, you might think that Rick would be ready to slow down and take it easy — but you’d be mistaken.

“My life’s mantra has been, ‘Go for it and make it happen,’” Rick says. “If you don’t go for it, nothing’s going to happen. I don’t see age as being a reason to change that.”

Swapping Classical Guitar for Rock ‘n’ Roll

Rick got his first guitar when he was around 7 years old, and his parents started him out with lessons in classical guitar. When he saw Gene Autry on television, singing and playing acoustic guitar on his horse, Champion, Rick says he fell in love with more popular music and started playing folk songs on his own.

He was around 12 when Rick first heard rock ‘n’ roll records on the radio. Songs like “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets and Elvis Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel” still stand out in his mind.

Those songs changed Rick’s life in ways he couldn’t have imagined at the time. His parents bought him an electric guitar and, as the saying goes, the rest is history.

Getting Fingerprinted for a Cabaret Card

It wasn’t long until Rick was forming bands and playing gigs. He started with CYO dances, school sock hops and frat parties before moving on to playing at bars and nightclubs in New York City. Because he was underage, he had to obtain a cabaret card — which required being fingerprinted and having his photo taken at the police station.

College Offers an Alternative Path

Rick says his interest in music was so strong, he didn’t pay a lot of attention in school. His average grades in high school limited his choices when it was time to apply to colleges. He wound up attending the University of Miami in part because his grandparents lived in Miami.

“College lit a fire in me that high school didn’t,” Rick recalls. His grades earned him a recurring place on the dean’s list and in a couple of honor societies.

Rick’s parents encouraged him to pursue studies that would give him a backup plan in case his career as a musician didn’t work out as he hoped. He initially set his sights on becoming a psychiatrist, but a biology lab involving dissected frogs brought that to an abrupt end.

From there, he chose radio, TV and film (RTF) as his major, with an emphasis on filmmaking. After three years at UM, he transferred to New York University, where he earn a bachelor’s degree in filmmaking and later on a master’s in communication. In his first year at NYU, he was classmates with none other than Martin Scorsese and Bob Balaban.

“Marty’s student films were so good, it almost stopped me from continuing in film,” Rick says. “I knew I wasn’t going to be as good as him.”

Still Motivated by Music

Even though he was focusing on the RTF curriculum, Rick’s interest in music didn’t wane during his college years. He still performed, honing his skills with various bands while at UM and NYU.

Additionally, after responding to an ad in the UM school newspaper, he was hired as an intern at Colpix Records (the first recording company for Columbia Pictures-Screen Gems), marking his first job in the music industry other than as a performer. Going beyond his assigned responsibilities, he worked at getting the company’s records played on local radio stations, and eventually, he was asked to expand his efforts statewide.

After transferring to NYU, Rick and a bandmate co-wrote a science fiction rock operetta that “came within a whisker” of being made into a record and a Broadway play. Once he earned his undergraduate degree, Rick worked as a full-time musician for about five years, touring with a band and getting as far as opening for Three Dog Night.

“I decided after a while that I had better get serious because I couldn’t imagine being a rock ‘n’ roller in my 70s. Little did I know,” he says with a chuckle, alluding to artists like Steven Tyler, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards and Paul McCartney who are still touring well into their golden years.

First Executive Role Gradually Leads Rick to Deborah

While working toward his master’s degree, Rick was introduced to the owners of a small record company in the Midwest. They hired him as a general manager, kickstarting his career as a music executive, and asked him to open an office for them in New York.

From there, he went to PIP/Pickwick as the vice president of sales and promotions, where he started producing records. A subsequent move took him to Island Records, which Polygram ended up buying. Deborah worked at Polygram, and their paths first crossed at a meeting in Indianapolis.

Rick was married at the time, and Deborah was in a relationship as well, so they became friends but lost touch for a few years. When their respective careers brought them back together again, they were both single. Rick says at that point there was “no stopping us.”

Before retiring from the music industry at the end of 2002, Rick went on to hold top executive roles at several other record companies, including Arista Records and BMG Distribution, which owned Arista. Over the years, he produced or co-produced more than 50 singles and albums, and played a key role in many of the industry’s most innovative transitions.

What Retirement?

After winding down his career in music, Rick had a brief stint as an actor. He and Deborah then moved to Ashland, Oregon, where he became involved with various humanitarian endeavors and, at a neighbor’s invitation, joined a writing club.

This was his springboard for writing short stories, one of which he developed into the first of his bestselling historical mystery series featuring Chief Inspector Pignon Scorbion.

Soon after they moved to Ashland, Rick and Deborah connected with the owners of Blackstone Publishing, which was then purely an audiobook publishing company, through a friend of theirs. They joined the company as consultants and members of the newly formed board of directors. In the ensuing 17 years, Rick has played a pivotal role in developing additional lines of business for Blackstone, including print and e-book publishing, the company’s media, film and TV division, as well as its direct consumer sales and IT platforms.

Currently, in addition to heading new business development at Blackstone, Rick is writing his third Pignon Scorbion novel as well as a screenplay.

He also enjoys appearing on podcasts, and has conducted a series of Chapter & Verse interviews with well-known authors and literary agents through his YouTube channel. These interviews will soon be shown on HKTV, the in-house television station at Heron’s Key.

rick bleiweiss book signing

Starting a New Chapter at Heron’s Key

Rick and Deborah checked out quite a few senior living communities on both coasts before hearing about Heron’s Key. They visited us late last summer while staying with friends in Tacoma and, according to Rick, immediately fell in love with Heron’s Key and Gig Harbor.

“It felt vibrant. We liked the people we met, the food we ate, the spirit of the community,” Rick says. “We immediately put a deposit down.”

They decided to move into an available apartment until a larger one opened up — which didn’t take long. Their “new” one is being remodeled, and once they’ve settled in, Rick says he’s looking forward to freeing up more time so he can participate in some of the gaming and volunteer activities here at Heron’s Key and go to some baseball games.

That doesn’t mean he won’t still work full-time, though.

“I enjoy what I do, so why give it up?” he says. “As long as the inspirations keep coming, why not [keep going]? No matter what age you are, if you still have the energy and still have the dream, go for it!”

If you’d like to arrange a visit to Heron’s Key, call (877) 892-7129 or contact us online.

Featured Images: Rick Bleiweiss, 2024

learn more about rick bleiweiss