Michael Rhodes

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — In a genre where lyrical flair and vocal.mastety are usually noticed more than musical splendor, bassist Michael Rhodes was so exceptional his rhythm section contributions were always a highlight and extremely valued, especially by other musicians and artists.

Rhodes, who died last week at age 69, played with so many great musicians that it is probably easier to cite those he didn’t work with rather than try to mention all the ones whose bandstand he graced.

But a short list would include Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton. Rosanne Cash Rodney Crowell, Steve  Winwood, Stevie Nicks, Etta James and the list just goes on.

Stylistically, he brought the flamboyance of jazz soloing and the soul of blues accompaniment to his numerous country, pop and rock sessions and collaborations.

But jazz and blues were a vital part of his musical DNA. In his latter years, Rhodes spent much of his time playing with the award-winning blues artist Joe Bonamassa. Rhodes also continued to cultivate and espouse a love of jazz and found solace in John Coltrane and similar artists’ work.

 ‘It fed him, always,” his wife said, per Billboard.

He was a 10 time Academy of Country Music Bassist of the Year, and constantly proved that a great musician can thrive in any genre or situation.