Country Legend Says Longtime Band Member Died of Exposure
Dan "Bee" Spears, the longtime bassist in Willie Nelson's family band, died Thursday (Dec. 8) after falling outside his Nashville home, the legendary country singer announced on Friday. According to Nelson, Spears, who was 62, died from exposure. "We are still in shock," he wrote on his website.
Spears spent more that 40 years keeping up with Nelson, whose guitar style relies heavily on playing just behind the beat of his songs.
Bee Spears Filling in for Merle Haggard in 1974
"Playing with Willie is tricky business," Spears said in 2003. "If you try to follow him too close, he'll lead you down to the river and drown you. You have to keep one eye on him and one eye on your part. Just play your part and trust that he's going to come back and meet you at some point."
Spears joined Nelson's band, called the Family, in 1968 when bassist David Zettner was drafted into the Army. The Texas native appeared on several of Nelson's landmark albums, including the 1970s classics "Shotgun Willie," "Stardust" and "Red Headed Stranger."
He also appeared as "Bo" in the 1980 film "Honeysuckle Rose," a romantic drama starring Nelson.
Spears embraced Nelson's love of the road, and the band continues to keep a brisk schedule, even with the frontman only two years away from 80. The "Willie Nelson and Friends Family New Year" shows are still scheduled for Austin's Moody Theater on Dec. 30 and 31.
Funeral arrangements have been made for Tuesday at the Williamson Memorial Funeral Home in Franklin, TN.