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Remembering A Red Dirt Legend

RIP Tom Skinner aka TinyTom Skinner tribute photo

You may have heard of the passing of one of the most important men to many of our favorite Red Dirt artists, Mr. Tom Skinner.  Mr. Skinner passed on July 12, 2015.  If you’re not sure of who this man is, let me give you a little “Tom Skinner 101.”

From the NEWSOK story posted recently, Skinner was an Oklahoma State University alumnus and gained early recognition for his regular gigs in Stillwater, the birthplace of red dirt music, the uniquely Oklahoma blend of rock, country, folk and other diverse sounds.  Among those Stillwater gigs was playing in Garth Brooks’ early band, which went to Nashville, Tenn., with the future superstar but moved back to Oklahoma before Brooks hit it big.

“Hey, man, Garth Brooks wanted to be in Tom Skinner’s band just like we all did. He was just persistent enough to keep at him until Tom finally said OK,” Red Dirt Rangers member John Cooper once told me. “You know, we all wanted to be Tom Skinner. The first time I saw Tom … I was just like ‘This is the coolest thing I’ve ever seen. I want to do that with those guys.’ And I know Garth felt the same way — we all did.”

Along with Jimmy LaFave and the late Bob Childers, Skinner was considered one of the founding fathers of red dirt music.

As I said, many of our favorite artists are mourning the loss of Mr. Skinner including Cody Canada who posted to social media, “There will never be another Tom Skinner. Devastated. Love you all.”

Mike McClure said of his good friend and mentor, “I’m still playing tonight. Tiny would kick my ass if I didn’t.”

And Jason Boland posted this: “For those of you who may not know, one of our best friends and inspirations is no longer with us in the physical form. Tom will be missed but never forgotten. He will truly live on through his music and the many lives he touched and made better.”

Skinner was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in a January ceremony at the Freeland Center for the Performing Arts in his hometown of Bristow.  He was also still playing on a fairly regular basis including jamming with McClure.

A couple of different sources have said that instead of a funeral, a big musical celebration in Skinner’s honor is being planned, with details to come soon.  There has also been a fund set up to help with the mounting medical bills that Mr. Skinner endured.  You can get more info here:

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