Having created widespread awareness of Oklahoma’s musical tradition through extensive journalistic writing since 1975, Gene Triplett has been intrinsic in generating enthusiasm and support for the state’s music scene. Born March 12, 1949 in La Jolla, California, to parents Erbin and Marjorie Triplett, Gene moved to Oklahoma at age two when his parents returned to their hometown of Oklahoma City in 1951. Gene first displayed an interest in playing music at age 11, enamored with the music of the Ventures, the Everly Brothers, and Del Shannon. His mother bought his first guitar, an acoustic, when he was 13, and he took a few lessons. Gene joined half a dozen garage bands in the 1960s as a lead singer and sometimes rhythm guitarist while in junior high and high school, ultimately discovering he was a better prose writer than rock singer. After serving in the U.S. Army to include a tour of duty of duty in Vietnam, Gene enrolled at Central State University, where he graduated in 1975 with a Bachelor of Arts in journalism.
Hired by The Oklahoma Journal in 1975, Gene covered all areas of hard news while also serving as the newspaper’s rock critic. Until The Journal folded in 1980, he reviewed records and concerts, as well as interviewing and profiling rock stars who came through Oklahoma City. Subsequently, Triplett was hired by The Oklahoman in 1981 where he worked as an entertainment writer, covering all area of popular music, movies, and fine arts. After working on the news side of the paper from 1985 to 1999 (the last ten years as city editor), he moved back to The Oklahoman’s features department as entertainment editor in July, 1999, a position he still held in 2011. Among hundreds of articles and reviews, Gene has interviewed and written about international artists such as Paul McCartney and Mick Jagger, as well as homegrown talent such as Wanda Jackson, Hoyt Axton, Byron Berline, Tyson Ritter and Nick Wheeler of the All-American Rejects, and Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips.
Supported throughout his career by Carol, his wife of forty-three years, Gene says he is most proud of his son, Aaron, on many fronts, but especially because of Aaron’s guitar virtuosity. Triplett hopes to continue writing, for as long as he can, for those desiring to read about Oklahoma’s rich breeding ground for musical talent, as well as the music world beyond the state’s borders. As for advice to aspiring musicians, Gene urges them to “develop a thick skin and an iron determination, gain an education about the business side of music, and never give up on your dream.” For his exemplary contributions to music in Oklahoma through his journalism career, in 2011 the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame inducted Gene Triplett.