The founder of the Grammy-nominated country-rock band, The Tractors, has died. Steve Ripley died Jan. 4 at his home in Pawnee, Oklahoma after a hard-fought fight with cancer. He was 69-years-old.
The Tractor’s best selling song released on Arista Records was the first single they released in 1994 entitled “Baby Likes to Rock It.” The single received rave reviews from critics and it went platinum.
The band released other followup singles, but they could never recreate the magic of their first single.
Ripley continued his musical career as a recording artist, producer, songwriter, engineer, and radio host of the very popular ‘Oklahoma Rock & Roll’ series.
Not too many people knew that Ripley was also an inventor. One of his greatest inventions was the ‘stereo guitar,’ which was a favorite of Eddie Van Halen, Dweezil Zappa, and Ry Cooder.
Ripley also ran and owned the Tulsa’s Church Studio.
He was a very popular guitar player who played with Bob Dylan. Ripley worked as an engineer and producer for legendary country acts such as Roy Clark, Leon Russell, J.J. Cale, and Johnnie Lee Wills.
Starting in junior high school and continuing through college, Ripley played in a number of bands. After graduation from High School, he went to Oklahoma State University majoring in communications. While in school, he worked as a full-time musician.
The 1994 debut album from the Tractors, which was self-titled, blended western swing, rock & roll and county music. The album would sell two million copies and earn two Grammy nominations. “Baby Likes to Rock It was honored at the CMV Music Video of the Year.
In 2017, Ripley was the band leader for a live musical event that honored the relocation of the Bob Dylan archives to the Bob Dylan Center. The celebration, titled “On A Night Like This,” featured musicians from Oklahoma.
Ripley left behind his wife Charlene, daughter Angelina, and son Elvis.
Written by Barbara Sobel
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Featured and Top Image Courtesy of Studentenes Fotoklubb’s Flickr – Creative Commons License
Video Courtesy of Ripley-The Tractors’s YouTube