Steve Ripley, famed guitarist, producer and band leader of “The Tractors” dies

PAWNEE, Okla. – Steve Ripley, leader of the country-rock band The Tractors, died peacefully at his home Thursday, January 3 in Pawnee at the age of 69, after a battle with cancer.

In addition to his work as a recording artist, Ripley was also a songwriter, producer, engineer, studio owner, radio host and inventor of the “stereo guitar” favored by such fellow musicians as Eddie Van Halen, Ry Cooder and Dweezil Zappa.

Owner of The Church Studio in Tulsa for 19 years, Ripley additionally distinguished himself by playing guitar with Bob Dylan and producing and/or engineering projects for Leon Russell, J. J, Cale, Roy Clark, Johnnie Lee Wills, and many others.

Born Paul Steven Ripley on January 1, 1950 during his parents’ brief residency in Idaho, Ripley grew up on the family’s Oklahoma Land Run homestead in Pawnee County.

Ripley worked nearly full-time as a musician while attending Oklahoma State University, where he earned a degree in communications.

He opened his first studio, Stillwater Sound, in the early 1970s.

“For more than 35 years I’ve been fortunate to call Steve Ripley one of my true friends,” says Van Halen. “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.”

Steve Ripley leaves with us the words with which he closed all of his radio shows: “Don’t forget, family is what’s important. Tell your mama you love her. Kiss your babies. We’re all in this together. Bye-bye, kids.”

Steve is survived by his wife Charlene, 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 later. 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

For more information on Steve Ripley and his legacy, click here.

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