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Willie Nelson's Longtime Bassist Dies Unexpectedly
Dan 'Bee' Spears slipped and fell outside his Nashville home
FROM: The Rolling Stone ~
By Patrick Doyle
Dan "Bee" Spears, who played bass on the road with Willie Nelson for more
than 40 years and appeared on many of his classic albums, died unexpectedly
late Thursday. Austin, Texas television station KXAN reports Spears slipped
and fell after stepping out of his motor home in Nashville Thursday night,
according to his friend Dee Pearce. He was found dead, due to exposure. He
was 62.
Spears grew up in a musical family outside San Antonio, Texas. Nelson hired
Spears in 1968 when he was only 19 years old after Nelson's previous bassist
David Zetter was drafted. "I happened to be there when the guys were talking
about finding a replacement," Spears once said. "One of the guys said,
'Hell, let's hire Bee. He doesn't play worth a crap, but we can teach him
what to play, and he won't come in with any preconceived bullshit!''"
Spears played on key Nelson albums including The Troublemaker, Shotgun
Willie, and Phases and Stages, The Red Headed Stranger and Stardust and
provided a solid backbone to Nelson's offbeat phrasing and guitar acrobatics
during live shows. "Willie is all over the place with his vocal phrasing,"
Spears said. "He'll take you up a creek and dump you in a minute. My main
role in the band is to make sure he knows where the 'one' is, so he can come
back to it."
Spears also toured with country artists including Waylon Jennings and Guy
A statement on Nelson's Web site reads: "We are deeply saddened by the death
of Family member Dan 'Bee' Spears, long time friend and bassist for Willie
Nelson and Family. We are still in shock and gathering details as the day
continues. He apparently died of accidental exposure at his property near
Nashville, Tenn."
Nelson's next concerts are scheduled for December 30 and December 31 in
Austin, Texas.
Here's a video of Spears singing "Okie From Muskogee" with Nelson on a
classic episode of Austin City Limits:


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