Tom Skinner, a Red Dirt music pioneer and former member of Garth Brooks' band, has died. The singer-songwriter passed away on Sunday (July 12) due to various health complications. He was 61 years old.

Skinner, who played bass in the early years of Brooks' career, was a beloved fixture in his Oklahoma community, playing regularly up until the time of his death. He was scheduled to perform at the Woody Guthrie Folk Festival last week but was forced to cancel due to his ongoing health issues.

"Garth Brooks wanted to be in Tom Skinner's band just like we all did. He was just persistent enough to keep at him until Tom finally said okay," Red Dirt Rangers member John Cooper tells NewsOK. "You know, we all wanted to be Tom Skinner. The first time I saw Tom ... I was just like, 'This is the coolest thing I've ever seen. I want to do that with those guys.' And I know Garth felt the same way -- we all did."

Skinner joined Brooks when he made his first trips to Nashville, but he quickly realized that his home was in Oklahoma.

“I really liked Nashville, but looking back, I believe I made the right decision because I’ve gotten to play a lot of great music with a lot of great people," Skinner told American Songwriter of his decision to return to the Sooner State.

His love of music led Skinner to influence one of the biggest country music trends, the Red Dirt movement, in the late 1970s.

“Red Dirt is really more of a brotherhood and a community thing than it is necessarily a style,” he said. “We wanted to be Gram Parsons or Bob Dylan or John Prine. We weren’t really trying to start anything; we all just wanted to play music that we loved.”

Funeral arrangements for the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame member are still pending. The Boot extends our deepest condolences to his family.

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