Dave Richardson, the Saanich police officer who wrote the lyrics to one of the most performed songs in the history of Canadian music, died Sunday after a short illness.

“Wildflower,” originally performed by the Canadian band Skylark, started as a poem Richardson wrote when he was a rookie police officer in 1972.

 

Richardson wrote Wildflower after the girl he was dating, Jo, fell asleep after a tough nursing shift at Royal Jubilee Hospital in 1970.

“These lyrics just came to his mind. She’s had a really tough shift at the hospital, and so then he, soft-hearted person that he is, wrote the lyrics for Wildflower. And the rest is history,” Doug Richardson, Dave Richardson’s brother, said.

Skylark guitarist, Doug Edwards, read the poem and immediately wrote music to it.

“We were kids. We were hungry. We had our eye on the prize. And then Doug and Dave wrote this beautiful song. The story is that he just left it in a pile of lyrics. Then Doug was fishing through the pile, and found ‘Wildflower’ and wrote it instantaneously,” BJ Cook, a former member of Skylark, said.

And a famous alumnus of the group knew they had something special.

“When we went to record it, and just listened to the magic that came out. We kind of knew we were on to something,” David Foster, a former member of Skylark and award-winning producer, said.

The song sold millions of copies after its release in 1973. It has been covered by many artists, including Hank Crawford, and has been sampled in a number of hip hop songs.

It’s no surprise to his family that Richardson wrote such enduring words.

“In Israel, we met a woman who said ‘that was my favourite song growing up.’ And this kind of thing happens all the time,” Dave Richardson’s wife, Lesley Richardson, said.

It set the careers for the members of Skylark and they remember the song that started it all.

A memorial for Dave Richardson will be held at North Douglas Pentecostal Church in Saanich on Friday, Sept. 13 at 1 p.m.

Mary Griffin