This treasured and beloved guitarist who played with Ernest Tubb for many years has sadly passed away at the age of 85 on Saturday, December 9th, 2017.
Having played alongside Tubb in his Texas Troubadours band throughout the 1960s, world-class guitarist Leon Rhodes became a familiar face in the country music community and appeared on the Grand Ole Opry and everyone’s favorite variety show, Hee Haw, for decades.
As The Tennessean reports, Rhodes “played with blinding speed and unbelievable accuracy” with Tubb calling attention to his incredible skill with a familiar “Aww, here’s Leon” when he’d have a solo.
A Dallas-born musician, Rhodes first learned how to play guitar from his older brother and soon found himself playing on radio programmes, later recording with greats like Lefty Frizzell and Ray Price before joining Tubb’s Texas Troubadours.
In a tribute memorializing this legendary part of country music history, Chris Scruggs shared a fond statement about Rhodes on Instagram.
“There is a great Texas Troubadour reunion taking place right now, as Leon Rhodes passed today into the wild blue yonder today,” he wrote beneath a photo of Rhodes. “That means one less country guitar legend who walks among us, and it is certainly our loss. In my opinion, Leon was one of the greatest country guitarists of all time, and one of the finest jazzmen to ever take the stage in a cowboy suit.”
It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to a man who was a such an amazing part of making country music for so many decades, and we will always be able to remember Leon Rhodes by his incredible contributions to the music we all know and love.
Read Scruggs’ full statement in his post below and listen to Rhodes playing with Ernest Tubb in the video below.
Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this very difficult time.
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There is a great Texas Troubadour reunion taking place right now, as Leon Rhodes passed today into the wild blue yonder today. That means one less country guitar legend who walks among us, and it is certainly our loss. In my opinion, Leon was one of the greatest country guitarists of all time, and one of the finest jazz men to ever take the stage in a cowboy suit. Yes, the Short Brothers and Tommy "Butterball" Paige who wrote the book on how to play lead guitar for Ernest Tubb, and it was Billy Byrd who made the guitar just as much a starring feature as ET's voice. However, Leon added a level of sophistication to the established style and elevated it into something that was elegant, refined and well spoken… but always with the down-home country twang of his Epiphone Sheraton's treble pickup. He always played with an enormous amount of humility and dignity, and his decades of service to the Grand Ole Opry staff band made radio listeners smile all over the world on Saturday nights. Sending love from me to his closest friends and family, and Leon, if you can still hear us from the other side, we'd just like to say: "Thanks, thanks a lot."