January 7, 1955 - April 2, 2019

Photo by Linda Elias

Photo by Linda Elias


Richard Robert "Rick" Elias, age 64, passed away peacefully in Nashville on April 2, 2019, after a brave battle with cancer. He was at St. Thomas hospital and surrounded by his immediate family. Rick was born in San Diego, CA, started playing music professionally at age 13, and attended Azusa Pacific University. He relocated his family to Brentwood, Tenn., in 1991, where he lived until his death. Rick gained widespread recognition for composing music for the 1996 Tom Hanks film That Thing You Do! and as a founding member of Rich Mullins' A Ragamuffin Band, while he also achieved success and critical acclaim as a Contemporary Christian Music producer, songwriter, and performer. Later in life he became a respected songwriting professor at the Contemporary Music Center in Brentwood. Beloved husband for thirty-two years to wife, Linda (nee Tollner); son of Maryann (nee Sutherland); brother to Cindy (nee Hilton) and Sheri (nee Sutherland); loving father of Graham Griffith (Abel), Amber Gould (Hamilton), Taylor, and Zachary; doting grandfather of two; undeniably cool uncle, cousin, and friend to many. A public memorial service will be held at 3pm on April 14, 2019, at Community Bible Church, 6005 Edmonson Pike, Brentwood. In lieu of flowers, Rick requested a donation to help cover his many medical expenses via his official GoFundMe.

Published in The San Diego Union Tribune on April 5, 2019. Written by Graham Griffith (Rick’s son).


Legendary singer/songwriter and producer Rick Elias is perhaps best known as a founding member of A Ragamuffin Band, formed by the late Rich Mullins in the early 1990s. Elias performed with Mullins until his untimely death in September 1997. 

At the request of Mullins's family, estate, and record label, Elias resumed the production of his posthumous release, The Jesus Record, which went on to win two Dove Awards, and produced two Number 1 hit radio singles, "My Deliverer" (performed by Elias) and "Nothing Is Beyond You" (performed by Amy Grant).

Elias is a respected producer in both the contemporary Christian and mainstream recording industries, working with such artists as Amy Grant, Michael W. Smith, and Aaron Neville, to name just a few. 

Elias burst onto the national consciousness when his music was featured in hit motion pictures, including the enormously popular My Big Fat Greek Wedding and Tom Hanks' directorial debut, That Thing You Do!, as well as in television shows, including Dawson's Creek.

In addition, Elias's work has received awards and nominations from the Gospel Music Association, The United Catholic Music and Video Association, and the Nashville Music Awards. His debut solo album, Rick Elias & the Confessions, was voted by CCM Magazine as one of "100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music."

In 2018, he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Friends and colleagues are banding together to help defray the enormous expenses associated with the treatment of his insidious disease. This website was created as a part of this effort. You can help by making a donation at the link below.