Rich Holly holds the position of Dean of the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Northern Illinois University. A Professor of Percussion at NIU since 1983, he served as Associate Dean of the College for more than seven years, and has also held administrative positions within the NIU School of Music as Assistant Director of the School, Graduate Coordinator, and Director of the Jazz Camp.
Rich remains active as a solo performer and clinician, and has appeared over 300 times at schools, colleges, universities, conventions, and festivals throughout the United States, Europe, South America, Canada, and Asia. Rich received his formal training at the State University of New York at Potsdam and East Carolina University. His principal teachers were Henry Gates, Howie Mann, James Petercsak, and Harold Jones. In addition, Rich studied Brazilian percussion with Manoel Monteiro, Afro-Cuban drumming with Frank Malabe, and West African drumming with Abraham Adzenyah and Famoudou Konaté. Rich was a founding member of the Abraxas Percussion Group, and has performed with the Long Island Holiday Festival Orchestra, the Lyric Opera of New York, and the North Carolina Symphony. For 11 seasons Rich was Timpanist of the Illinois Chamber Symphony.
As a drum set artist, Rich has appeared with Allen Vizzutti, John Fedchock, Dave Samuels, Bill Molenhof, Ethel Merman, Red Skelton, Bob McGrath and Sesame Street, and many others. From 1984 to 2000, Rich played drum set and percussion with Inner City Record's artist Rhythmic Union.
Rich's numerous articles have appeared in almost every major music journal, and, from 1986 to 2002, he was Associate Editor for Percussive Notes magazine. His published percussion compositions are sold around the world, and his popular book, Majoring in Music: All the Stuff You Need to Know, is available from booksellers worldwide.
Rich is a Past President of the Percussive Arts Society, the world's largest organization for percussionists.