Michael Rhodes, a bass guitar player who amassed one of the most star-studded lists of session credits an instrumentalist could have, passed away at the age of 69. Rhodes played with a number of famous musicians throughout his career.
Billboard (opens in a new tab) was the publication that broke the news, and they learned of Rhodes’ passing from a statement that was issued by a family member of the bassist.
Rhodes will be remembered as one of the most prolific bass players in the history of music. During his career, he collaborated with some of the most well-known figures in the guitar industry, including Joe Bonamassa, J. J. Cale, Mark Knopfler, and Johnny Cash, to name a few.
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Rhodes’ journey as a bass player actually began, as it does for many people who eventually end up playing four-string instruments, on a regular guitar that he taught himself to play. Despite the fact that he has become a go-to commander of the low end for many high-profile artists, Rhodes began his career as a bass player on a regular guitar.
Rhodes picked up the guitar when he was 13 years old and began his professional career as a guitarist, performing and recording, before making the switch to the bass. After living in Louisiana and Austin for a while, he finally made his home in Nashville in the late 1970s. It was in Austin that he started building his impressive resume.
Steve Gorman posted about Michael Rhodes’s Death. You can see the Tweet below.
Michael Rhodes was the baddest man in a town full of bad men.
Every session I played with him was sacred in real time, as it was happening…and then even more so in hindsight.
Today, I feel lucky just to have known him.
What a truly wonderful man.
Rest easy, my friend. pic.twitter.com/tfFtVpzZ5e
— Steve Gorman (@SGSFOX) March 5, 2023
After playing in a few different local bands, including The Nerve, Rhodes was hired to play in the house band at Tree Publishing. As part of this job, he was able to play on demo recordings for a variety of different artists.
The Importance Of Blue And Rock Guitar Music
The blues and rock guitar music served as the foundation for Rhodes’s work, despite the fact that his repertoire of styles was quite diverse. In the early stages of his illustrious career, Rhodes collaborated with artists such as J. J. Cale, Dolly Parton, Lonnie Mack, and Hank Williams Jr.
However, it wasn’t until the 1990s that he worked with artists such as Vince Gill, Etta James, Larry Carlton, Elton John, Mark Knopfler, John Fogerty, Dixie Chicks, and Brian Wilson. Rhodes’ career has been marked by a great deal of success.
Rhodes played with artists such as Lionel Richie, Joan Osborne, the Highwaymen, John Oates, Willie Nelson, and Stevie Nicks. He was known for his consistent and confident low-end handling, as well as his musical ability regardless of the artist he was playing with at the time. His musical ability was also independent of the artist he was playing with.
In addition to his session credits, Rhodes played in a number of well-known supergroups in the Nashville area on the side. Some of these groups include The Players, which featured Brent Mason and Guthrie Trapp, The Players, which featured Gary Nicholson, and TAR, which featured Guthrie Trapp.
Rhodes began working as Joe Bonamassa’s session bassist in 2013, and in that capacity, he assisted the blues musician in the production of a number of live and studio albums over the course of the following eight years. These albums included 2013’s Tour de Force: Live in London, 2014’s Different Shades of Blue, and 2020’s Royal Tea, among others.
In a 2018 interview with Bass Guitar magazine(opens in new tab), Rhodes gave some advice to younger artists and reflected on how he was able to navigate such an eclectic mix of session appearances, saying, “The studio is a great equalizer because the artists tend to be on their best behavior.
Michael Rhodes Advice To Young Guitarists
“The artist’s ego fades because they’re there to work, not play,” he continued. “Your job is to figure out how to stay in the game, like, what’s my mode of communication here? You’re just picking up on the vibe.
“My advice to aspiring players is to keep quiet and listen. Music is similar to having a conversation in that you must listen for the most part. The best session players are those who can listen well and accept suggestions.
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“You must keep your ego at bay. Do what is asked of you while not delaying the process; in other words, ensure that you are prepared and that all of your equipment is in good working order.”
Rhodes was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame in 2019. Before he died, Rhodes, according to his wife, was listening to John Coltrane. “He loved jazz and John Coltrane and all those guys,” she explained. “It always fed him.”
The family of Rhodes has asked that donations be made to the Music Health Alliance which assists musicians in need of healthcare and medical aid.
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