Richard Oakes was born in Perivale, London, and grew up in the Parkstone area of Poole, Dorset, in the southwest of England. He first started playing when he came across a Spanish guitar that his sister owned. The album that initially influenced him to pursue a career in music was "The Story of the Clash, Volume 1", which he heard when he was 12. Prior to joining Suede, Oakes played in a band called "TED" along with his friends Peter Field (vocals) and Colin Forbes (Rhythm guitar) . The band was actually originally titled 'PIPATED' – 'Plug in Peter and the Electric Daffodils'.
The first gig Oakes attended was one of Suede's at the Poole Arts Centre in May 1993. Upon hearing that guitarist Bernard Butler had left the band and that the band were auditioning for a replacement, he recorded versions of Suede songs and some of his own material on a 4 track recorder, which he sent to the band's fanclub along with a note that read "Take me or leave me." When drummer Simon Gilbert heard Anderson playing back the tape whilst going through audition tapes, he mistakenly believed it to be an early Suede demo. After the second audition Oakes was invited to join the band.
At the age of 17, and after beating approximately five hundred candidates, Oakes officially joined Suede on 17 September 1994 (exactly 2 weeks before his 18th birthday). Oakes first public appearance with the band was on Top of the Pops, while his first full live appearance was at a secret fan club gig at London's Raw Club on 10 October 1994. The first song he performed live, and the first video he appeared in, was "We are the Pigs".
His first co-writing credits were the B-sides of single "New Generation", "Together" and "Bentswood Boys". Oakes went on to co-write many songs with Anderson on subsequent albums and B-side material, several of which went on to become hit singles in the UK.
Oakes joined his former bandmates for three UK Suede concerts in 2010, followed by a concert at London's O2 Arena in December of that year, then festival appearances in Sweden, Hultsfredsfestivalen in July and Denmark and Norway in August,. Suedes's reunion continued with their sixth album, Bloodsports, on which Oakes co-wrote all but two of the songs, released in March 2013.
Suede released their seventh album Night Thoughts on 22 January 2016 to widespread critical acclaim. Oakes co-wrote all but four of the songs. It was accompanied by a feature film, directed by Roger Sargent. During their 2016 tour the band performed from behind a screen on which Sargent's film was projected during the first half of their set.
In 2008, singer, writer and producer Sean McGhee confirmed on his Myspace site that he and Oakes were working on new material together. In a March 2009, McGhee posted another blog entry confirming sessions were ongoing and that they had 11 songs written.
In 2009, Sean McGhee posted a blog entry saying that the duo now had 14 songs to date. He disclosed 3 of the 14 songs' titles namely: "I Keep On Walking," "Forever In Negative" and "You".
Sean McGhee confirmed on his Myspace blog that, despite the Suede reunion, his project with Richard was still ongoing, and work would continue around Suede's schedule.
The duo confirmed in April 2010 that the project would be called Artmagic.
Their debut EP, "I Keep on Walking", was released on 23 May 2011, followed by a single, "Forever in Negative" on 25 June 2012. Their debut album, Become The One You Love, was released on 2 July 2012. A further single, "Down in the River" followed on 21 October 2012.