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Walter "Tooter" Ripps

Walter "Tooter" Ripps

Walter "Tooter" Ripps

Walter “Tooter” Ripps wears many hats in the Bandera music scene.

A producer with his own recording studio, a sound engineer helping venues and musicians get the best sound from stage to audience, he also lends his vocals to the lead mic, backs up other vocalists and lays down one of the meanest bass lines in the business. A fellow musician calls him, “The man with ears of gold.”

Tooter credits his parents for starting him early. “Dad taught himself to play several instruments and he gave me a guitar when I was nine. I got into it listening to the radio and mimicking the songs and my mom bought me a chord book.” Tooter was playing professionally by the time he was thirteen.

“I played Friday, Saturday and Sunday for $10 a night plus tips. I was the richest kid in eighth grade!”

In his teens he played with George Chambers. “I’d open the show and sing for 30 minutes, then play behind him. Back then Willie Nelson didn’t have a band. Sometimes we’d fill in. I played with him half dozen times and that was a lot of fun.”

After surgery for a brain tumor, doctors warned he might never walk or play music again.

Tooter didn’t listen. “You have to keep putting one foot in front of the other all day, every day,” he says. “We don’t get to decide when to quit.”

He plays in with and gives guidance to bands that span genres from rock to western. A founding member of the Bandera Music Hall of Fame, he was inducted as Musician in 2010. Of the BMHF he says, “We wanted to honor local musicians. Bandera has so many who never see their name in lights and they deserve the recognition. I never considered myself one of these – I’m a behind-the-scenes guy. I truly appreciated being named Musician of the Year.”

Rough Cuts Tooter Ripps - Lonely All The Time