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Dan ‘Bee’ Spears, Willie Nelson’s Longtime Bassist, Dies

BeeSpears
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Dan ‘Bee’ Spears, who served as the bassist in Wille Nelson‘s touring band for over 40 years and who played on several of the singer’s crucial albums, passed away unexpectedly on Thursday (Dec. 8). Spears was 62.


KXAN
, a TV station based in Austin, Tex., first reported that Spears was found dead outside of his Nashville motor home, according to his friend Dee Pearce. The bassist apparently slipped and fell, ultimately dying of exposure to the elements.

A statement about Spears’ death was posted on Nelson’s website. It read as follows:

“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.”

According to Rolling Stone, music coursed through the bassist’s veins and fueled his DNA, as he grew up in a musical family in San Antonio. Spears was hired by Nelson in 1968 at the tender age of 19. He took over for David Zetter, who was drafted. Spears recalled being hired for the gig, saying, “I happened to be there when the guys were talking about finding a replacement. 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 bulls—!””

Spears’ contributed to essential Nelson albums like ‘The Troublemaker,’ ‘Shotgun Willie, ‘The Redhead Stranger’ and more. He also hit the road and played with Waylon Jennings and Guy Clark. While his name might not be instantly familiar, the bassist leaves behind a lasting and impressive legacy.

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