Tulsa keyboardist Dick Sims passed away on December 8 after battling cancer. He was 60.
The Tulsa County Band backed Clapton on his 1974 album 461 Ocean Boulevard and his 1977 album Slowhand.
“461 Ocean Boulevard was Eric Clapton, but that was [also] the Tulsa County Band. They weren’t going to name it ‘Eric Clapton and Tulsa County,’ because Eric was already a solo act. And the bands he’d been in before, they only lasted one album and then they’d break up. And we were with him for nine years.” - Dick Sims to Tulsa People in 2010
Sims began playing in Tulsa clubs by age 12. From 1968 through 1972, he toured with Phil Driscoll and Yurmama, appearing with them on The Ed Sullivan Show on March 20, 1971. Along with Oldaker (also a member of Yurmama) and JJ Cale, Sims played on Bob Seger’s album Back in ’72 (which features “Turn the Page”).
“Dick was the best keyboardist I ever played with. There aren’t any stylists like him anymore. I couldn’t find one today if I tried. He had a sound that nobody else had. He was a dear friend and a great guy.” - Jamie Oldaker (Tulsa World)
Sims also played or recorded with J.J. Cale, Peter Tosh, Vince Gill, Delaney Bramlett, Bernie Leadon, Stephen Stills, Freddie King, B.B. King, Albert King, Etta James, Carlos Santana, Perry Farrell, Yvonne Elliman, Marci Levy, Victoria Williams, Richie Hayward, John Heard, Pat Senatore, Lester Chambers and more.
Clapton dedicated his December 10th show with Steve Winwood in Tokyo to Sims.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to his friends and family.
Watch some of Sims’ handiwork after the jump.
Dick Sims official bio:
Arguably one of the best rock keyboard players in the world, Dick Sims’ work on the Hammond B-3 Organ is unparalleled. The “Tulsa Sound” musician is most widely recognized for his distinctive keyboard work on such Eric Clapton hits as “I Shot The Sheriff”, “Wonderful Tonight”, “Cocaine” and “Lay Down Sally” just to name a few. He joined Eric Clapton and His Band in 1974 and was instrumental in the making of Eric’s “comeback” album, 461 Ocean Boulevard. It was the beginning of a long-standing period of musical magic involving fellow Tulsa musicians Jamie Oldaker and the late Carl Radle (Derek & The Dominos). There has been much talk among rock fans about the Tulsa influences in Clapton’s music during that time period, with much of that talk centered on Dick’s work on the Hammond B-3 Organ.
It was at the age of five that music first took a hold of Dick and there was never any question of what he was going to do with his life. He grew up in musically rich Tulsa, Oklahoma and was earning money, playing in clubs by the age of 12.
From 1968 through 1972, Dick toured with Phil Driscol and Yurmama, playing both Hammond B-3 Organ and foot bass simultaneously – – – appearing with Yurmama on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1971. He then returned to Tulsa and formed the Tulsa County Band, along with fellow Tulsa musician, (and fellow member of “Yurmama”) famed drummer, Jamie Oldaker.
Prior to that time, and through their friendship with fellow “Tulsa Sound” musicians, Teegarden and Van Winkle, Dick and Jamie were hired by Bob Seger, who, at the time, was forming a new band to record the album Back in ‘72 which contained the original Seger classic “Turn the Page.”
In 1978 Dick recorded To The Limit with Joan Armatrading and accompanied her on a world tour in 1980.
Dick has recorded with legendary producers Tom Dowd, Phil Ramone and Glyn Johns. He has also performed and/or recorded with artists such as J.J. Cale, Peter Tosh, Yvonne Elliman, Marci Levy, Victoria Williams, Delaney Bramlett, Bernie Leaden, Stephen Stills, Freddie King, B.B. King, Albert King, Etta James, Carlos Santana, Victoria Williams, Perry Farrell (Jane’s Addiction), Richie Hayward (Little Feat), jazz bassist John Heard (Count Basie), Pat Senatore (ex-Tijuana Brass), Lester Chambers (The Chambers Brothers), Vince Gill and Pure Prairie League.
After taking a sabbatical from the music world for nearly ten years, Dick returned to Los Angeles in 1998 and began composing songs that would make up his first solo album, Within Arms Reach. Dick is involved in a number of projects, including performing and promoting his latest CD, State of Mind. As of 2005, Dick makes his home in Tulsa, Oklahoma.