Richard Alan Beirach was born on 23 May 1947 in Brooklyn, New York City. Having a sheltered childhood, he started playing the piano at the age of 5. From age 6 to age 18, Beirach was given lessons by the pianist und composer James Palmieri. "James Palmieri showed me everything that I know about music,...he made me understand the deeper meaning of music."
Palmieri's lessons were strictly classic and until age 13, Beirach exclusively dealt with classical music.When, at the age of 13, he stayed at a friend's place, he heard Red Garland's version of "Billy Boy" from Miles Davis' album "Milestones": "I could hardly believe it