The Collins family of Seattle, WA, apparently consisted of generation upon generation of -- without exception -- talented musicians. Trumpeter Dick Collins, credited from time to time as the less-casual Richard Collins, wound up playing on a wide range of jazz and pop recording sessions, but began his professional career as a mascot for the band of his father, pianist Fred Collins. Speaking of studying with talented fathers, the younger Collins also had the benefit of music lessons from the father of trumpeter Red Nichols, followed by several years of work in Paris with the brilliant French composer Darius Milhaud.
Collins began showing up in the company of famous jazz musicians in the late '40s. He worked with pianist Dave Brubeck and saxophonist Charlie Barnet and also found himself running with the herd of Woody Herman. November of 1956 marks a significant economic moment, namely his official induction into the Los Angeles musician's union. His freelancing on the L.A. studio scene began shortly thereafter, and like many of the top players in this type of work, he also became absorbed in the orchestra of Les Brown. Collins toured all over the world with Brown in the late '50s, but experienced one of the high points of his career artistically at home in the United States. That was the presentation of playwright Tennessee Williams' At Liberty at the Idyllwild Arts Festival in 1958, for which Collins scored music for both drama and dance. His music as a leader was documented on a pair of Victor albums, while the trumpeter has contributed to many other recordings, including Herman's The Herdsmen Play Paris, The Dave Brubeck Octet, and vibraphonist Cal Tjader's lively Tjader Plays Mambo.