LifeNotes: Star Drummer Martin Parker Passes

Martin Parker

Martin Parker

Widely beloved Nashville drummer Martin Parker died on Sept. 10 in his home community in North Carolina at age 63.

He was a member of the 1989 Reprise Records group Billy Hill (“Too Much Month at the End of the Money”), alongside John Scott Sherrill, Bob DiPiero, Dennis Robbins and Reno Kling.

Parker also worked extensively in the bands of Vince Gill and Ricky Skaggs. His widow, Ira Byrum Parker, is a stylist who became a personal assistant to Dolly Parton.

During his Nashville career, Martin Parker backed Patty Loveless, Alison Krauss, Vestal Goodman, Earl Scruggs, Bonnie Raitt, Crystal Gayle, Don Schlitz, Gail Davies and The O’Kanes.

His recording-studio credits include Willie Nelson, Jerry Douglas and Steve Earle. He was mentored by the late Nashville session musician Larrie Londin (1943-1992), who was one of the most recorded drummers in history.

Born Martin Newbury Parker, he was a native of the Yeopim community of Chowan County, NC. He died in Greenville’s Vidant Medical Center. His celebration of life event was on Sunday, Sept. 13, in Tyner, N.C.

He is survived by wife Ira, as well as sons Quinton, Chris and Jamie and several granddaughters.

Contributions in his memory may be made to The Edenton-Chowan Educational Foundation, P.O. Box 206, Edenton, NC 27932 with a notation on the check reading “The Martin Parker Music Fund.” Online condolences may be made by visiting


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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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