Ricky Turpin 2008

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Ricky Turpin
Inducted in 2008

Ricky Turpin was born in Lubbock Texas on October 3rd, 1964 to Weldon and Jo Turpin, he has one brother Russ, who also played rhythm guitar. Ricky started his interest in fiddling at age twelve and was influenced by his dads fiddle playing . There is a story about how his dads old fiddle kept breaking and it would sit for a long time then he would repair it again and it would break again, this made it hard on Weldon to play so he quit for awhile. According to Ricky; “We were pheasant hunting with my dads friend who had just purchased an old student fiddle and it was there that I decided that I wanted to learn how to play the fiddle before he had even bought it!” (Ricky still has that same fiddle today.)

His primary influence was by Dick Barrett, Texas Shorty and Benny Thomasson albums as well as Terry Morris who became his primary influence and friend. Ricky’s favorite two fiddlers are Terry Morris (Texas style fiddle), Johnny Gimble, “I like practically everything about his fiddling: swing, back up fiddle, and waltzes. ”

Ricky found out early a violin is like a human voice,” he said. “It’s a very versatile instrument. You can back your bow close to the bridge and apply lots of pressure and you’ll get like a harmonic and it’ll sound like a flute.

You can make it sound exactly like a bird. With the bow you can make your notes short, like a pick, or if you draw a long bow, you can make it last as long as you want to – like somebody’s blowing a horn. It’s just neat.”

When Ricky was twenty-two he was the first recipient of the Tom T. Hall Endowed Scholarship in Country Music at South Plains College, he said school officials neglected to tell him it was a scholarship award of $5,000. He thought the honor was as top music student in the Country and Bluegrass Music program. One of Ricky’s instructors at South Plains College, Ed Marsh, said, “Turpin is one of the most capable and outstanding musicians ever to have been enrolled in our program. We feel Ricky is an excellent choice for our first recipient and will set high standards for scholarship recipients in years to come.”

Ricky has been the Texas State Fiddle Champion twice, a World Series of Fiddling Champion, first runner-up for the Grand Nationals Championship and a two-time Grammy winner. On the recommendation from Johnny Gimble, considered by many to be one of the best fiddle players ever, Turpin came to New Braunfels in 1988 to play with Clay Blaker and the Texas Honky-Tonk Band.

After two years with Blaker, Turpin joined Johnny Bush for a year and a half. Next, Ricky went to work for Ray Benson and Asleep at the Wheel band. Larry Franklin had recommended Ricky to be his replacement, in the two and a half years while playing for Asleep at the Wheel he won two Grammy’s.

On the tribute album for Bob Wills, Ricky recorded with some of the ex-Texas Playboys like Johnny Gimble, Herb Remington, and Eldon Shamblin. And with assorted celebrities including artists like Huey Lewis, Merle Haggard, George Strait, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Chet Atkins, Marty Stewart, Lyle Lovett, Suzy Bogus, Riders In The Sky, and Willie Nelson. With all his many awards and accomplishments he still remains passionate about the old time fiddle style itself.

“You have to study and be familiar with a style to get use to what it sounds like. The kind of music I like to play the most is the breakdown fiddle tunes we play in contests and western swing because I like the drive and the swing beat- it moves me. When you get a good rhythm the music just flows out and you come up with some stuff you’ve never heard before in your life. That’s when it’s really fun.”

Bobby Christman said once, “I’d say Ricky’s goal is to be someone like Johnny Gimble. Anytime anyone wants a good fiddle player, I mean with a top name, anywhere, they’d call Johnny Gimble. I’d say that’s what Ricky wants and I’d say he ain’t far from that.”

To quote Ricky, “ I want to play music as long as I can.” Ricky is living in the New Braunfels area maintaining a busy musical career.