Paul Steven Ripley (January 1, 1950 – January 3, 2019) was an American recording artist, record producer, songwriter, studio engineer, guitarist, and inventor. He entered the music industry in 1977. He was also the leader/producer of country rock band The Tractors.
Early life and education
The first usage of Red Dirt was by Ripley’s band Moses when the group chose the label name Red Dirt Records for their 1972 self-published live album. Ripley was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Awards Red Dirt Hall of Fame along with Bob Childers and Tom Skinner at the ceremony for the First Annual Red Dirt Music Awards held on Sunday, November 9, 2003 at Cain's Ballroom in Tulsa. As a producer, recording engineer, and studio musician, he has worked with Bob Dylan, playing guitar (on Shot of Love) and on the "Shot of Love" tour, with J. J. Cale (on Shades, 8 and Roll On), and he produced Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Roy Clark (on Makin' Music) and Johnnie Lee Wills (on Reunion). Bob Dylan listed Ripley as one of his favorite guitarists.
Ripley started Ripley Guitars in 1982 in Burbank, California. He created guitars for Steve Lukather, J. J. Cale, John Hiatt, Ry Cooder, Jimmy Buffett and Eddie Van Halen, before moving to Tulsa in 1987 to buy Leon Russell's former recording studio called The Church Studio. In 1994 he formed the country band, The Tractors. He is the co-writer of the country hit "Baby Likes to Rock It". In 2002, he created his own record label (Boy Rocking Records) to produce artists including The Tractors, Leon Russell and The Red Dirt Rangers. In 2009, he produced and hosted a 20 part radio series on the history of Oklahoma rock and roll, that aired on Oklahoma public radio stations. It was entitled "Oklahoma Rock and Roll with Steve Ripley." In 2013 Ripley produced the album Lone Chimney by the Red Dirt Rangers.
In 2015, Ripley worked alongside staff at the Oklahoma Historical Society to create a "Church Studio" exhibit space at the Oklahoma History Center. He remastered several of Leon Russell's songs that were available in a touchscreen kiosk that allowed a visitor to adjust individual instruments and vocal tracks to comprehend how multitrack recording works.
In 2016 Ripley produced and curated a concert at Cain’s Ballroom to celebrate the music and legacy of Bob Dylan.
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- 1994 : The Tractors (Arista)
- 1995 : Have Yourself a Tractors Christmas (Arista)
- 1998 : Farmers in a Changing World (Arista)
- 2001 : Fast Girl (Boy Rocking)
- 2002 : The Big Night (Boy Rocking)
- 2005 : The Kids Record (Boy Rocking)
- 2009 : Trade Union (Boy Rocking)
- 2020 : Tulsa (Boy Rocking)
- 2002 : Ripley (Boy Rocking Records) with The Jordanaires
- 1976: "Flying Upside Down in My Plane" (part of the soundtrack in the film, Deportee)
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- Whitburn, Joel (2004). The Billboard Book Of Top 40 Country Hits: 1944–2006, Second edition. Record Research. p. 350.
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- Wofford, Jerry. "Concert celebrating Bob Dylan set for Cain's Ballroom". Tulsa World. Retrieved 2016-04-14.
- "Guitarist Steve Ripley, Leader of the Tractors, Dead at 69". Rolling Stone. January 4, 2019.