Friday, December 19, 2014


I don't think you'll find a more moving photograph relating to aging, grief, and death, than this one posted on Facebook by the wife of the late Richard Crooks.

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.



alycatonlinedotcom AlyCat said...

wonderful tribute, Nina. It was great to meet you and get to play with Richard in David's band.


Danny Weis said...

I just found out about this. Nina, my hear goes out to you. I played guitar with Richard during the 70s. May God give you strength and peace. God bless you Nina. God bless Richard. He was such a good man and a great drummer.

Unknown said...

Nina, I was just thinking about my life, which led me to thinking about the many amazing and wonderful people I have been blessed to know, which led me to think about Richard, so I googled him amd found your beautiful post. I am so glad that he found you, truly he was the lucky one. He was the first person I met when I moved back East after 8 years in California. What a wonderful welcome, his warmth like a hearth... Who he was at that time proved too wild for me, but I knew the moment I met you that he had found the woman he would be willing to change all that for. You and I had similar years this year. My husband, Peter, lost his fight against throat cancer. It came back in Sept. of 2012, and one thing after another went wrong, but we still managed to make each day be full of love and even laughter. I kept holding on to some crazy hope, and also refused to think about being out of the present, where he still was. So, after his death was the agony, truly the hardest thing I ever went through. I think I truly went a little crazy, but also I was living out at my mom's because she needed full time driving, companionship, and assistance, so I was paying attention to her, which was wonderful but also very challengjng and depressing, and then she died in early November. So I am starting my life over. It is now a year since I lost Peter, and the pain has subsided, replaced almost completely with gratitude. (Oh by the way a book that helped me during the worst of it was Grieving Mindfully by Sameet M. Kumar.) i just want to reach out to you, Nina, because I think you are wonderful and also because we have been going through the same thing. I want to give you my email and phone number, and tell you that if you ever want to talk or write, I would really love that. And of course, if you ever come up to NYC... Phone 917-592-7209 Email With a big hug, Laurie Harriton

Ill Folks said...

Sometimes, when I wonder if this blog is relevant, and worth the time, it's posts such as the above that do keep me going. Some connect with a new artist, and others share that tight connection to the heart.

Hitman Blues Band said...

Nina, you don't know me. I was updating my website and realized I hadn't ever gotten a picture of Richard, who played on my second release, "Angel In The Shadows".

Richard was hired by the producer, Johnny Gale. He came in to the session, and just blasted through all 14 original songs as if he had been playing them for years. The beat he did on "I Know That You Love Me" still gets every drummer I've used green with envy.

He was a true artist, and his passing is a great loss to musicians and fans alike. I'm very sorry for your loss.

- Russell "Hitman" Alexander
The Hitman Blues Band

stixmaccoy said...

Very sorry for your loss-beautiful tribute. I worked at A&R in the late seventies, early eighties & I saw Richard play on many sessions. An amazing drummer