Michael Rhodes, Musicians Hall of Famer Session Player and Bassist, Dead at 69
Famed bassist and session musician Michael Rhodes died at his home in Nashville, Tenn. on Saturday morning (March 4), according to Billboard. He was 69 years old.
Over the course of his four decade-plus career, Rhodes played bass for numerous sessions and tours, working for some of the biggest names in the country, rock and pop formats. George Strait, Dolly Parton, the Chicks, Kenny Chesney, Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Wynonna Judd, Alan Jackson and Willie Nelson were just a few of the country legends he worked with during his life.
Rhodes played bass on Lee Ann Womack's spring 2000 hit "I Hope You Dance," which won Single of the Year at the 2000 CMAs, as well as Best Country Song at the 2001 Grammys and Song of the Year at the 2001 ACMs. He also has the distinction of playing on both Trisha Yearwood and LeAnn Rimes' versions of "How Do I Live" -- both of which came out in 1997, after Diane Warren originally released the song.
Outside of the country format, Rhodes worked with artists such as Lionel Richie, Stevie Nicks, Joss Stone, Brian Wilson and India.Arie. He was also a member of a couple of supergroups. With Rodney Crowell, Steuart Smith, Eddie Bayers and Vince Santoro, he was in the Cicadas; He also played as a member of the Notorious Cherry Bombs with Crowell and Bayers, plus Vince Gill, Hank DeVito and Richard Bennett.
His origins were in rock. Born in Monroe, La. in 1953, he taught himself to play guitar as a kid. In 1977, after moving to Nashville, he joined local rock band Nerve as well as Tree Publishing's house demo band. Towards the end of his life, he often played with blues titan Joe Bonamassa. He was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019.
According to Billboard, Rhodes was a passionate jazz fan, and he listened to John Coltrane before his death. "He really loved jazz and John Coltrane, all those guys. It fed him, always," explained his wife, Lindsay Fairbanks Rhodes.
In addition to his wife, Rhodes is survived by his son Jason Rhodes and daughter Melody Wind Rhodes, as well as Lindsay's sons Van and Weston Hayes, and several grandchildren. No cause of death has been given, and memorial arrangements will be announced at a later point.
In lieu of flowers, Rhodes' family requests that anyone wishing to make a donation in the musician's memory do so to the Music Health Alliance, and they also encourage "listening to a piece of music that matters to you," per Billboard.