Rob Bienstock – In memory of Stephen Ray Cripe. R.I.P. 1996 “St. Stephen will remain, all he lost he shall regain. ” I first met Stephen Cripe at one of our gigs in Miami about 5 years ago. He gave me a business card made out of wood. He said he wanted to start building guitars.

After Jerry’s passing, I was reading Guitar Player and saw in the article how he had built the BOLT guitar that Jerry played. I immediately wrote to the address and a few days later got a call from his fiancé’. She gave me his number in the Keys where he was working.

I called him and I think we spoke on the phone for at least an hour. He had so many interesting things to say, and he loved to talk. He told me how he had built a guitar from expensive parts and shipped it off to Jerry not knowing what would happen. Well, Jerry got it and said in his usually funny tone. “Oh, just what we need, another guitar!” It seems that every guitar builder in the country was sending Jerry guitars!

Well the instrument got put aside until a few weeks later, when Jerry decided to give it another look. Upon closer examination, he realized that this was the finest instrument he ever saw. I mean a neck made out of 9-ply wood! He called it a “museum piece.”

Stephen agreed to stop by my house on his way home from the Keys. Boy, was I flattered and excited to meet him. He brought pictures of the instruments he made, about a dozen I guess. I asked him how much Jerry paid for his. He told me when Jerry and Steve Parish called him and said, “Build us another. How much do you want for it.” I don’t think Stephen wanted any money for it. But Jerry said, “Don’t worry about us, we have lot’s of money,” and suggested 6 grand. I quickly wrote him out a check. He wanted to give me his drivers license number but I just trusted him. It did not matter. As a businessman my self, I wanted to warn him about taking checks from other people, but why spoil an honest guy. There are not many left. Over the next 3 months, we spoke often and exchanged faxes. He always had lots of fascinating things to say. When the guitar was done, he actually drove it 5 hours to my house. Now I expected it to be nice, but upon first look all I could say was “WOW!”  Steve was a perfectionist and always liked to out do himself. This was obviously the finest guitar he (and maybe anyone else) had built. I am amazed that any one person could have done this. Stephen and I spoke regularly after this. He sent me an EMAIL just a few days before. Well, this nice story has a sad ending.

Nix:  A lot of people will attest to how much he loved life and loved living it to the fullest.

 

 

 

Molohon:  I am so happy that Steve’s legacy lives on. He really was a great guy, I wish you could have known him.

 

Hello just found your website this weekend – great work!  When I was working for Raymond James I saw the article in the Times about Cripe.  On a whim I looked him up in the phone book and gave him a ring.  He talked my ear off for about an hour that first call – great guy.  Spoke to him on the phone a few times after that.  Was planning a visit up to his workshop when I got word about his death.  Sad day.

FYI a couple of things he told me that I didn’t see on the website.  He talked quite a bit about his first guitars actually being made for heavy metal bands.  Can’t remember the names, but he knew some heavy metal guys down around Miami that he made a few for as I recall.  He wasn’t too proud of them, said they were nowhere near the quality of the stuff he did for Garcia.  Interesting though that he started there.
Also he laughed quite a bit about the message from Dennis McNally because he thought it was one of his friends pranking him.  He didn’t really believe it was McNally so apparently he didn’t call him back.  It was only after Parrish called that he finally realized that it was the real deal apparently.
Anyhow thanks for the site – brought back some great memories of an extraordinary guy.  Quite the underdog story.
Best,
Pete Roe