Jerry Ricks, 67, a Philadelphia-born guitarist whose expert finger-picking was a direct link to the Delta blues, died Monday in a clinic in Croatia.
His death was announced by the Croatian Music Union, according to an Associated Press report. He had been living in the Balkan nation since early summer.
In August, Mr. Ricks went to a hospital, complaining of headaches and dizziness. Doctors determined that he had a brain tumor. He underwent repeated surgeries for removal of the nonmalignant growth and for a subsequent infection, his partner of 17 years, Nancy Klein, told The Inquirer in October. At the time, he was making a slow but steady recovery.
Mr. Ricks learned to play guitar from some of the greats as they came through Philadelphia clubs in the 1960s: Josh White, Mississippi John Hurt, Brownie McGhee, the Rev. Gary Davis, and Skip James. He in turn taught an authentic style of country blues to legions of guitar students in Philadelphia.
"Jerry was not just a wonderful musician - and he was a terrific guitarist - but he was basically a folklorist and a scholar," said the folk singer Mike Miller. "He just became involved in the history of the music and the people who made it."
Over the years, Mr. Ricks moved in and out of Philadelphia to find work, living in the Mississippi Delta, the Jersey Shore and most recently the Croatian coast.
When he recorded, he went by "Philadelphia" Jerry Ricks to distinguish himself from another musician.
Friends of Mr. Ricks' gathered in October to raise money for his medical expenses. The show, which included performances by Shemekia Copeland, David Bromberg and many friends from the Philadelphia folk revival, brought in more than $10,000, organizers said.
"A lot of people at the benefit said they took their first guitar lessons with Jerry," said the folk singer Saul Brody. "There was quite a range - blues bands, many of whom had studied with Jerry and felt he was one of their original influences, and folkies like myself, who were part of that scene and felt a lot of affection for him."
In a 2000 interview with The Inquirer, Mr. Ricks said of his music: "I never tried to walk in my mentors' footsteps. And nobody ever asked me to carry on their legacy after they were gone. I just had an honest relationship with these people and their music, and I followed my nose around."
Funeral arrangements are pending.