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Dierks Bentley’s ‘Original Fan’ Dies Following Battle With Cancer

Dierks Bentley
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Ann Soyars, Dierks Bentley’s original fan, has died. The 67-year-old passed away at her Tennessee home over the weekend following a battle with cancer.

Soyars was there when Bentley first took the well-worn stage at the Station Inn, a bluegrass club that stands out for it’s lack of standout features on a Nashville block that’s quickly growing taller, wider and more vibrant. The Tennessean reports that Soyars actualy worked there, but she also kept the crowd hushed while the music was playing and was as much a part of the fabric of the community as Norm or Cliff were at ‘Cheers.’

When Bentley was still a student at Vanderbilt, he played the Station Inn and met Soyars. He called her ‘O.F.,’ which stands for ‘original fan.’

“I heard him one night, found out he had an independent CD, got it and everything on it was great,” Soyers told the Tennessean in September. “We wound up being friends. I’d go to his shows, listen and sell his CDs, and I’d tell people, ‘You better hang onto this, he’s gonna be big someday.’”

Every regular at the Station Inn knew the straight-shooting Soyars. And Bentley wasn’t her only famous friend. During her final days, Bobby Bare, John Prine, Kathy Mattea and Suzy Bogguss were a few of the big names who stopped by. ‘O.F.’ was to attend the 2014 CMAs as Bentley’s date, but her health didn’t allow for it.

Over the years, Bentley would take the stage at the Station Inn dozens of times. In fact, he still books shows there from time to time, soaking in the roots music as a true fan of the style and simplicity. Earlier this year, he picked Soyars up in his ’67 Camaro to take her for “one last ride.”

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