Bluesman Philadelphia Jerry Ricks dies in a Croatian clinic at age 67

Published 5:40 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2007

American blues guitarist Philadelphia Jerry Ricks, who adopted and mastered the sound of the 1930s’ Delta Blues, died in a clinic in Croatia on Monday, the Croatian music association said. He was 67.

Ricks, who learned from and performed with the blues greats such as Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee and Lightnin’ Hopkins and was widely revered as a master of acoustic blues, moved to Croatia with his wife, Nancy, earlier this year after performing in a concert here.

He was hospitalized in August with what the Croatian Music Union said was a stroke. Some reports said he had brain cancer.

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Ricks was born May 22, 1940, in Philadelphia, Pa., and began playing guitar in the coffee house where he washed dishes.

He played throughout Europe in the 1970s and 1980s, recording albums in Germany, Hungary and Yugoslavia. In the 1990s, he returned to the United States to live in the Mississippi Delta, before deciding to settle down in Kastav, in northwestern Croatia.

Funeral arrangements were not immediately made public.