Jimmy LaFave, a stalwart of the Texas music scene and pioneer of Red Dirt and Americana music, died in Austin on Sunday night. He was 61.
LaFave had been battling an aggressive form of terminal cancer over the past year. Last Thursday, Austin’s Paramount Theater held a sold-out tribute concert to LaFave, who attended in a wheelchair.
During his formative years, LaFave moved to Stillwater, Okla., where he delved into the region’s folk music. LaFave, Bob Childers, Steve Ripley and other artists laid the foundation of Red Dirt music with their hybrid of folk, rock, blues and country. Fellow Oklahoma artists like Stoney LaRue, Cross Canadian Ragweed and Jason Boland were directly influenced by LaFave’s contributions.
He was deeply inspired by the music of Woodie Guthrie, performing and recording Guthrie’s songs throughout his career. LaFave performed at Guthrie’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction in 1996 and at the folk legend’s Oklahoma Hall of Fame induction in 1997.
In the mid-1980’s LaFave relocated to Austin, where he would become a fixture of the city’s rich music scene. His peers knew him as a champion of local music and a dear friend to many in the Austin community.
“He just didn’t want to quit, because–that’s another part of his ethos–everybody in the pool,” his friend Terry Tammadge told TWC News. “Some stars loved to be the person under the spotlight. Jimmy wanted everybody in the spotlight with him.”
Some of LaFave’s essential songs include “Baby Likes to Rock It,” “Fast Girls,” “Shortenin’ Bread.”