Tulsa music legend Steve Ripley dies at age 69

Remembering Steve Ripley

TULSA, Okla. — Quick Facts:

  • Music icon Steve Ripley died at age 69.
  • Ripley is the former leader of the country-rock band The Tractors.
  • A spokesperson said he died peacefully, surrounded by family.
  • Ripley had been suffering from cancer.

Steve Ripley died at age 69 after battling cancer.

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The Oklahoma native was a music legend and former leader of the band The Tractors. The band earned two Grammy nominations and broke records when the first album came out.

Ripley, born in Pawnee on January 1st 1950, also owned the historic Church Studio for 19 years and played the guitar with Bob Dylan. He produced works for Leon Russell, J.J. Cale, Roy Clark and Johnnie Lee Wills among others.

Recently Ripley worked with the upcoming OKPOP Museum to help them curate their audio collection.

Executive direct Jeff Moore released this statement, “Steve was such an inspiration to the OHS team. His vision and dedication to the OKPOP project has been invaluable. He truly loved Oklahoma, he introduced us to many of his colleagues in the music industry, we will always be indebted to him. His passion and energy will continue to live through everything we do at OKPOP.”

OKPOP recently posted about Ripley on his birthday and all his contributions.

Happy Birthday to Steve Ripley! As our Audio Archivist and Curator of the Leon Russell Collection, Steve has been...

Posted by OKPOP on Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Ripley also worked with legendary guitarist Eddie Van Halen on the designs of guitars and the creation of Ripley Guitars. Van Halen said of Ripley, "For more than 35 years I’ve been fortunate to call Steve Ripley one of my true friends. Steve is many things. Part genius, part musician, part inventor and many other great things, but my favorite thing about Steve is the wonderful, kind, humble human being he is and always will be. I love Steve with all my heart and am proud to know him.”

Ripley moved back to Tulsa in 1987 and bought Church Studio, he helped continue the Tulsa Sound and worked with a variety of artists, including Hanson.

"Knowing and working with Steve was a pleasure," says Isaac Hanson. "Whether we were recording, mixing or simply sharing our love for great music, Steve was a wealth of knowledge and a source of encouragement. Steve will always be to me, to all of us, a beloved friend, and an immense musical talent gone too soon."

Ripley is survived by his wife Charlene, his children, son Elvis Ripley and girlfriend Paige Turlington, daughter Angelene Ripley Wright, son-in-law Jonny Wright, grandson Mickey Wilder Ripley Wright, and brothers Scott Ripley and Bobby Ripley and their families.

The family will announce a memorial service at a later date. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to the Red Dirt Relief Fund, which provides a safety net of critical assistance to Red Dirt music people in times of need. http://www.reddirtrelieffund.org