Richard J. Dobson – A Tribute

Once in a great while, in life, someone walks into it that leaves such a large footprint you are forever touched. And so it was with Richard J. Dobson (aka Don Ricardo).

Roxy Gordon was an American Indian activist, a poet, and storyteller. And, he was a friend and spirit brother to Rick and myself. It was he and his wife, Judy, who introduced Rick and myself to Ricardo in December 1999.  He and his bride-to-be, Edith, had come to Coleman to visit Roxy and Judy and to get married in the Coleman County Courthouse. I didn’t get to attend the actual wedding ceremony because I had to work, but this picture was taken in our music room the night before.


The first song I heard Ricardo play and sing in our home, was “Piece of Wood and Steel.”

There was a little controversy that arose when David Alan Coe released it on an album and listed himself as the writer. That eventually got straightened out.

“Richard is a huge, gentle bear of a man with a rollicking, roll-with-the-punches attitude toward show business success or lack of same,” Robert Oermann wrote in The Tennessean in 1983. He added, “He’s a man-child who has retained the wide-eyed wonder of youth as he has become a godfather to the new generation of struggling pickers.”

That description fits the man perfectly. He made more than twenty albums and had songs recorded by artists such as Johnny Cash and Guy Clark. He is mentioned in Rodney Crowell’s song “Nashville 1972” as a poet. Another apt description.

But on a deeply personal level, Ricardo’s music touched me in a way that only “truth” and “real” can do.

Anytime life gets tough for me, I have one go-to as far as soothing music for my soul. It is none other than “Rockin’ To The Rhythm of the World.” It always puts me back in sync.

And there is another that I carry the lyrics to in my wallet and have for well over fifteen years called “Useful Girl.” I was that useful girl and it spoke to me in ways I can’t explain. The song was written from a true story (as many of Richard’s songs were). He loved history and loved, even more, expressing it in the poetry of song.

When the news came that Richard J. Dobson had passed away, my heart broke into a million pieces. I know that death is as much a part of life as is birth, but it doesn’t lessen the blow or the grief. I want everyone to know what an amazing artist and person Richard J. Dobson was. He was a true friend to Rick and myself and continued to be to me, after Rick’s passing.

This picture was taken at our music store a year or so before Rick passed away.

L-R Rick Sikes, Jan Sikes, Richard Dobson, Edith Dobson

Ricardo wrote a song telling Rick’s story, “The Old Rhythm Rebel.” I am happy that he wrote and recorded it while Rick was still alive to hear it and be able to appreciate and acknowledge the honor he felt.

This post is longer than I normally make, but there isn’t any way to make it shorter and express what’s in my heart. I loved Ricardo like a brother. I was thrilled for him when I received his email telling me that his work was being archived in the Woodson Research Center at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Well, there simply isn’t enough room in this post to list all of his accomplishments including a film debut in “Heartworn Highways.”

Besides all of the music, Ricardo also wrote and published three memoirs, “The Gulf Coast Boys,” “Pleasures of the High Rhine,” and “The Years The Wind Blew Away.” 

His most recent CD release was a collaboration with Texas author, W.C. Jameson, “Plenty Good People.” It, along with most of Ricardo’s music, can be found on Amazon.


Ricardo & Jan_1
Richard Dobson and Jan Sikes at a Llano Music Festival 2011



Jan_Ricardo_Kay (2017_03_11 18_36_10 UTC)
Myself, Richard Dobson and Kay Perot in Austin 2015

To say there is a gaping hole in my heart is putting it mildly. I just know Rick, Roxy, and Ricardo are having a reunion in the other world. I can only imagine the conversations.

RIP Richard J. Dobson 3-11-42 to 12-16-17.

A life well-lived – a story well-told…


My own personal collection of Richard Dobson music



30 thoughts on “Richard J. Dobson – A Tribute

  1. A fine tribute to Ricardo… I share your sorrow for likewise I had known him since the 70’s and he was a dear friend and always my favorite songwriter. He was in my studio in Georgetown last month recording songs for his next cd.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you SO much, for leaving a comment, Rick. I’ve heard Ricardo speak of you many times. The guitar he played when he came over was made by my late husband, The Ol’ Rhythm Rebel, Rick Sikes.


  2. Jan, this is an outstanding tribute to Rick, Roxy, and Ricardo. I’m sure their reunion on the other side includes plenty of conversation about you. I love every single song you posted here. I can see why Ricardo’s music is your go-to for solace. Thanks so much for sharing this with us. You wear your heart like a bright shining star ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I had the honor of knowing Richard since 1990. We even wrote a few songs together and he wrote the liner notes to my first album, Porch Songs. I sang on one of his cds at Thomm Jutz’s studio. I knew Edith from Switzerland since 1991, when we played at her venue there. They last came to my house 2 years ago, but we kept in close touch. My heart also shattered when I heard of his death. Thank you for your loving tribute x

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thank you very much, Ms Sikes. This is a truly moving tribute to a most gentle and talented old friend. I was fortunate enough to spend a great deal of time with Richard and Edith just this October and November down in Texas. He was in high spirits, very excited about 3 new songs he’d just finished and recorded with Rick Dinsmore and Brad Hartman in Georgetown. I got to see him at the Rice University show along with a lot of old friends from the Houston and Austin music scene of the 70s and 80s. I was especially pleased to be able to see him perform at Anderson Fair, my old venue, where I first met Richard about 45 years or so ago.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Walter, I am kicking myself SO hard for not making a trip to Austin happen while they were here a few weeks ago. It just goes to show you that life shouldn’t get in the way of real friendships. I’m so glad you got to see him and I appreciate your comment. We mourn together.


  5. I’m so sorry, Jan. I know how much Richard meant to you and the deep connection you shared. I was happy to share my books with him but regret that I never met him. I think I would’ve liked him. Take comfort in his music and the words he left behind. Love you so much.


  6. Jan this question may sound a little silly, but is Richard a star in Nashville? I like country music because it speaks to truth just like soul music; but not a rabid fan. I do appreciate all kinds of music because my mother introduced me to the world of music, and so my interest are varied. You must have loved him very much create such a beautiful tribute to him. .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No silly question, Shirley. Richard was never a Nashville star, yet his songs were recorded by many who were. Yes, I loved him like a brother. Thank you for stopping in and leaving a comment.


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