Nina Robinson Crooks: "My Angel, Richard, will live on forever in all our hearts. My pain is too much to bear, but, I know I am the luckiest woman on the planet because he chose to marry me and be my soulmate. Thank you, Richard for 23 years of sheer bliss…I have selfishly been hoping that he would some how win at least another January in his many painful battles with health issues that have slowed him for years. Gratefully his pain is over. In a sad way the beat does not go on. He will be missed. May you rest in peace my friend. You made the world a better place…. I will love you until the end of time and beyond."
For most of you, Richard's name is linked with Bob Dylan, although he worked for many years with Dr. John, and played with dozens and dozens of other legends. In September of 1974, Crooks joined Eric Weissberg, Charlie Brown, Tony Brown and Tom McFaul in backing Bob for the "Blood on the Tracks" sessions. Bob's comeback was hurried and bewildering. As Crooks recalled, "…you never knew what Dylan was going to do next... You couldn't rely on there being a predictable set of chord changes all the time; you had to be free-flowing enough to go with the flow.”
Crooks was a Californian who attended San Jose State where he earned his BA in music. He was one of the most dependable session drummers on either coast, and was dubbed "Father Time" for his ability to hit the beat for most any kind of music. This included the bayou rock of Dr. John, who said, "none of them New Orleans motherfuckers play as good as Richard Crooks." Dylan's back-up musicians always respected Richard, and when Soozie Tyrell assembled a band for her first album, Richard Crooks joined veteran Dylan bassist grinning Tony Garnier, and touring guitarist handsome Larry Campbell.
Richard had health setbacks in his later years, including a liver transplant. In 2008 he moved to Key West, Florida, but did not give up on music. He could be seen at the Green Parrot, Sloppy Joe's and BO's Fishwagon. He had lots of friends down there, and they were delighted when, on his 72nd birthday, he was able to get behind the drums for a set. It was one of his last.
Below is "Meet Me in the Morning" from one of the September 1974 sessions at Columbia A&R Studios.
RICHARD CROOKS plays on MEET ME IN THE MORNING