Richardson was born in New York City, the son of Norma Kessler, an actress, and Bob Richardson, a fashion photographer who struggled with schizophrenia and drug abuse. Richardson's father was Irish Catholic and his mother is Jewish. Following the divorce of his parents, Richardson moved to Woodstock, New York, with his mother and stepfather, English guitarist Jackie Lomax. Richardson later moved to the Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, where he attended Hollywood High School. He moved with his mother to Ojai, California, where he attended Nordhoff High School, when he was 16. Richardson originally wanted to be a punk rock musician rather than a photographer. He played bass guitar in the punk rock band The Invisible Government for four years. He played bass for a variety of other punk bands in Southern California including Signal Street Alcoholics, Doggy Style, Baby Fist and Middle Finger.
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