In a press release, a spokesperson confirms that the leader of country rock band The Tractors died peacefully, surrounded by family on Thursday, January 3.
The Tractors’ leader, Steve Ripley, died at age 69 after battling cancer. He passed away on Thursday, January 3, at his home in Pawnee, Oklahoma. Sources said that he died peacefully, surrounded by his family. Following the news of his death, tributes came from close friends and acquaintances.
Isaac Hanson of Tulsa-based pop trio Hanson expressed his deep condolences in a statement. “Knowing and working with Steve was a pleasure,” he said. “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.”
Another tribute came on Instagram from Taylor Hanson, another member of Hanson. “So heartbroken saying goodbye to dear friend #SteveRipley fellow okie musician, leader of #TheTractors, red dirt pioneer, mentor, mad scientist, great Dad and trusted friend,” he wrote in the caption.
Alongside the caption was a photo of Ripley performing in 2005 with Taylor playing piano by his side. “This pic captures a treasured moment where @hanson shared the stage with Steve (center) and fellow legend and friend #LeonRussell back in 2005,” Taylor added. “So, proud to know this good man, can only imagine the joyful sound in Heaven tonight. We love you Steve and miss you greatly. May the final concert last forever.”
Ripley worked with the upcoming OKPOP museum to help curate its audio collection. Following his death, OKPOP’s executive director Jeff Moore released a condolences 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.”
Ripley was the leader of country-rock band, The Tractors. Their 1994 debut single, “Baby Likes to Rock It”, garnered critical attention and earned them two Grammy nominations. Meanwhile, their self-titled debut album was certified double platinum. Even though the band’s other songs didn’t get that much attention, he still worked as a recording artist, songwriter, producer, engineer, radio, and inventor of the “stereo guitar.” He also worked for Leon Russell, J.J. Cale, Roy Clark and Johnnie Lee Wills.
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