It worked: The trio played with Clapton on his 1974 comeback “461 Ocean Boulevard” and continued to work with the prolific musician on several subsequent albums, including “There's One in Every Crowd,” “Slowhand” and “Backless.”
Another Clapton commission, a set of Oldaker's drums made in Japan, occupies a shelf several rows over from Sims' keyboard in the history center vault. The drummer recently donated them to the historical society.
“There was a Japanese family that handmade the custom drums for Yamaha. These were tailored to match one of Clapton's sunburst guitars, so these are one-of-a-kind,” Moore said.
Moore hopes to someday exhibit the instruments in the OKPOP Museum, a 75,000-square-foot showcase celebrating the influence of Oklahoma artists on popular culture. The planned museum will be built in Tulsa's Brady Arts District of Tulsa, provided the state Legislature approves a $42.5 million bond issue.
“If it wasn't for the OKPOP project, these collections that have been coming in — the Leon Russell collection, Eric Clapton's band collection — we wouldn't have these,” Moore said.
The historical society has been working on OKPOP plans since 2007, developing relationships with musicians, actors and producers based on the vision for the museum, said Larry O'Dell, director of special projects. After his death in 2011, Sims' estate donated the keyboard, which required extensive cleaning as the black petroleum-based foam inside the case had deteriorated and melted all over the instrument.
The OKPOP collection also includes photos of the Oklahoma musicians and their Tulsa Sound contemporaries. Staffers hope to acquire memorabilia from Radle and Clapton, too.
“We want to document this. This is important as the 20th century becomes more and more part of the history. I mean, every band today — whether they like it or not — is influenced by these guys ... whether they know it or not,” Moore said. “It's a big part of our culture today, and what we want to do is we want to collect it, preserve it and share it with the world.”