Musician Jerry Riopelle, New Year’s Eve fixture in Phoenix, has died

Dec 26, 2018, 12:24 PM | Updated: 12:42 pm
(Facebook Photo/Jerry Riopelle)...
(Facebook Photo/Jerry Riopelle)
(Facebook Photo/Jerry Riopelle)

PHOENIX – Longtime Valley musician Jerry Riopelle, whose end-of-year performances were a Phoenix staple for decades, has died, according to his family.

A post to his Facebook page Thursday said Riopelle died Monday due to complications from cancer.

We are stunned and heartbroken to announce on behalf of the Riopelle family that our beloved husband, father and friend,…

Posted by Jerry Riopelle on Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Until a recent “semi-retirement,” Riopelle’s New Year’s Eve shows had been a fixture at Celebrity Theatre since the 1970s.

This year, the multi-instrumentalist and singer scheduled shows for Friday and Saturday at Talking Stick Resort.

With songs such as “Walkin’ on Water,” “Blues on my Table,” “Red Ball Texas Flyer” and “Naomi’s Song,” Riopelle blended R&B, rock, country and jazz into a sound that caught on in the Southwest.

According to the bio section on his website, Riopelle was born in Detroit and raised in Tampa, Florida, before he found a home in the Valley.

He started his music career in the 1960s in Los Angeles and for a time was a staff writer for Philles Records, a label founded by producer Phil Spector.

His self-titled debut album was released in 1971.

His first New Year’s Eve show at the Celebrity Theatre came in 1974 as the support act for Dr. John.

In 2007, he was inducted into the Arizona Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame.

Riopelle and his wife, Naomi, split their time living in Scottsdale and Hawaii and have two adult children, Paul and Angela.

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Musician Jerry Riopelle, New Year’s Eve fixture in Phoenix, has died