Richard Parsons was born and reared in Raleigh. He attended Ravenscroft School, Broughton High School, and UNC-CH. He studied piano with Valerie Baumgarten and was a private organ student of Margaret S. Mueller and Catherine Ritchie Miller. Beginning in 1972, he established the Sunbury Press and published eight scholarly titles on organ and harpsichord building. These include Charles Ferguson's translation of the monumental The Organ-Builder, originally by Dom François Bédos de Celles, and Owen Jorgensen's Equal-Beating Temperaments. For over ten years, beginning in 1983, he reviewed mostly Baroque keyboard and chamber music for Raleigh's Spectator Magazine. He is also an experienced church bell change ringer; he is a member of the Society of Royal Cumberland Youths, an English elective society of ringers. He plays the harpsichord privately for his own amusement. He is a free-lance graphic designer in New Bern.