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Leon Rhodes, Guitarist for Texas Troubadours, Dies at 85

Leon Rhodes
Elmer Williams/Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum/Getty Images

Leon Rhodes 

Country guitarist Leon Rhodes, who was an essential component of Ernest Tubb’s Texas Troubadours, died Saturday at his Nashville home. He was 85.

The 1960s guitar great sold his bed at a young age to buy his first six-string, he said during the 2014 Country Music Hall of Fame -- and he didn’t stop playing since. At 16, he snagged a job as a musician on The Big D Jamboree, a country music program on Dallas radio station KRLD-AM.

A few years later, Tubb hired him to be the lead guitarist in the Troubadours, who he played with for seven years. He later worked as a session musician and spent more than 20 years as part of the band on the variety television program Hee Haw.

Country music artists Charlie Daniels and Elizabeth Cook took to Twitter to honor the guitarist, noting the classic line by Tubb when Rhodes was about to dive into a solo: “Awww, pick it out, Leon.”

Rhodes is survived by his wife of 52 years Judi, his eight children, 25 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren.

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