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Chris Ethridge, Willie Nelson Bandmate and Original Flying Burrito Brother, Dead at 65

Chris Ethridge
Gijsbert Hanekroot, Getty Images

One of the men who helped Willie Nelson build his long and storied career has died. Chris Ethridge, a country rock bassist who’s perhaps best known as the co-founder of the Flying Burrito Brothers, died Monday (April 23) after being hospitalized in Meridian, Miss. last week.

“WN&F are sad to hear of the passing of Family member & friend Chris Ethridge he was a talented musician & we were honored to call him Family,” Nelson tweeted just after 1PM. Ethridge toured with Nelson for almost eight years and played on his 1978 single ‘Whiskey River.’

Last Thursday, Booker T. Jones tweeted that Ethridge didn’t have long to live. “Just talked to Chris Ethridge, (Burritos, Willie Nelson), hospitalized in Meridian, MS — send love and hope – doctors say he will pass soon,” he said.

Fellow Mississippian Randy Houser was also touched by Ethridge’s gift. “Just found out one of my dear friends passed away. sad day. Chris Ethridge you will be missed. Nobody played it like you brother,” he tweeted. Houser grew up in Lake, Miss., just 45 minutes down I-20 from Ethridge’s hometown of Meridian.

Ethridge founded the Flying Burrito Brothers with Gram Parsons in 1968 and released the critically-acclaimed and influential country rock album ‘The Gilded Palace of Sin’ in 1969. He would also later record with Leon Russell, Randy Newman, Linda Ronstadt and Jackson Browne.

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