Musician Dave Roe died last week at his home in Goodlettsville at age 71.
He is best known as the bass player for Johnny Cash in the iconic Tennessee Three during the 1990s. Roe also played on more than 500 albums as a studio professional.
Proficient on electric bass as well as slap-back, rockabilly stand-up bass, Dave Roe backed a who’s-who of music. Among those he played bass for are Faith Hill, John Mellencamp, Loretta Lynn, CeeLo Green, Chrissie Hynde, Dwight Yoakam, Kris Kristofferson, Yola, Rodney Crowell, Carrie Underwood, Marcus King, Ray LaMontagne, Jim Ed Brown, Dan Auerbach, Taj Mahal, Eddy Arnold, Iris DeMent, Billy Burnette, Sturgill Simpson, Ian Hunter, Merle Haggard, Brian Setzer, Kurt Vile, Tony Joe White, Rosie Flores, Malcolm Holcombe, Brandy Clark, Joe Ely, Richard Lloyd, David Olney, Bruce Robison, Allison Moorer, Jack Clement, Don Schlitz, Duane Eddy, Kathy Mattea, Shawn Camp and Gretchen Peters.
Dave Roe Rorick, his full name, was born in Louisiana and raised in Hawaii. After playing in island rock and funk bands, the musician moved to Nashville in the early 1980s. Within a week of arriving, he went to work in Jerry Reed’s band. He also gigged with Chet Atkins, Mel Tillis, Charlie Louvin, Dottie West, Vince Gill and Vern Gosdin during his early years in Music City.
During the late 1980s, June Carter Cash’s daughter Rosey Carter Nix had a local Nashville nightclub band that included Dave Roe. This is how he came to the attention of Johnny Cash, who hired him in 1992.
Following the years touring with The Man in Black, Dave Roe remained close to the superstar. He also often performed in the superb Don Kelley Band on Lower Broadway. In addition, Roe has gigged at Dee’s Country Lounge, the 12th South Taproom and other local venues.
He participated in the albums produced by Rick Rubin that resumed and revived Cash’s legendary career and earned him a “victory lap” of honors in 1994-2010. Roe also performed in a band with Kenny Vaughan and Pete Abbott called The SloBeats. Guitarist Vaughan is famed as a member of Marty Stuart’s Fabulous Superlatives band and Abbott is the drummer in the soul-rock group The Average White Band.
Roe’s last known performance was on the Grand Ole Opry backing Cash’s grandson Thomas Gabriel on Sept. 12. He was a member of The Tennessee Four with Gabriel, Kerry Marks and Paul Leim, and it was the band’s Opry debut.
John Carter Cash memorialized Dave Roe on Facebook. Other who have written fond memorials include Peters, Dave Pomeroy, Guthrie Trapp and Ira Dean.
“He was a real cat, a master musician,” said Trapp in Bass Player magazine. “He really knew how to subdivide that beat and make it a funky, groovy thing.”
It is reported that Dave Roe passed away as a result of a heart attack on Sept. 15. He is survived by his wife Leslie Barr and son Jerry Roe, who is an in-demand Nashville drummer. Funeral arrangements are unknown.
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