Bassist and session musician Michael Rhodes, who was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019, has died. He was 69.
A representative for Rhodes confirmed his death to Billboard. Rhodes passed away at his home in Nashville, Tennessee, Saturday morning (March 4). No cause of death was given at press time.
Rhodes was born in Monroe, Louisiana, in 1953. At age 11 he taught himself to play guitar, which he began playing professionally, before taking up bass.
After stints living in Austin and Memphis, he wound up in Nashville in 1977, where he joined local rock band Nerve and Tree Publishing’s house demo band. It was there that he got what he called “a great crash course in the art of playing a song, and what was needed for a song,” he told Nashville Arts.
He went on to have a prolific career in session work, playing on award-winning songs including Shawn Colvin’s “Sunny Came Home” (1996) and Lee Ann Womack’s “I Hope You Dance” (2000), and even had the honor of playing on both LeAnn Rimes’ and Trisha Yearwood’s 1997 versions of Diane Warren’s “How Do I Live.”
His incredibly long list of credits includes recordings for Willie Nelson, Etta James, Mark Knopfler, Alan Jackson, Stevie Nicks, Brian Wilson, Joss Stone, Dolly Parton, the (Dixie) Chicks, J.J. Cale, Wynonna, Merle Haggard, Randall Bramblett, Amy Grant, Hank Williams Jr, the Highwaymen, John Oates, George Strait, Kenny Chesney, Bob Seger, Dave Stewart, Keith Whitley, Joan Baez, Lionel Richie, Burt Bacharach, Aaron Neville, Johnny Cash, Lonnie Mack, India.Arie, Buddy Guy, Grace Potter, Billy Joe Shaver, Ruthie Collins, Michael McDonald, Dan Penn, Jennifer Holiday, John Fogerty, Elton John and Joan Osborne.
In recent years, he played often in Joe Bonamassa’s band.
“Rest in Peace my friend,” Bonamassa tweeted. “I can’t even get my head around this right now.”
Rhodes is survived by wife Lindsay Fairbanks Rhodes, son Jason Rhodes and daughter Melody Wind Rhodes, and Lindsay’s sons, Van and Weston Hayes, as well as grandchildren Cayman Rhodes, Cora Rhodes, Wylder Rhodes, Kingsley Rhodes, Jenna Nicole Hillman and Ryley Bruce Hillman.
Memorial arrangements will be provided at a future time.
In lieu of flowers, and in Rhodes’ spirit, his family requests that donations be made to the Music Health Alliance, which provides aid to musicians in need of healthcare and support. Checks may be sent to Music Health Alliance, 2737 Larmon Dr, Nashville, TN, 37204 or through their website, musichealthalliance.com. Rhodes’ family also encourages listening to a piece of music that matters to you; Rhodes listened to John Coltrane before he passed. “He really loved jazz and John Coltrane, all those guys,” Rhodes’ wife says. “It fed him, always.”