Longtime Opry Guitarist Spider Wilson Dead at 79
A longtime fixture on the legendary Grand Ole Opry has passed away. Guitarist James Edward "Spider" Wilson died Thursday (Feb. 26).
A native Nashvillian, Wilson was so enamored with country music as a young man that he used to stand outside an open window of the Ryman Auditorium and listen to Hank Williams perform, according to CMT. He began playing with Little Jimmy Dickens and his band in 1947, and toured with Ray Price before joining the house band at the Grand Ole Opry in 1953, before he was out of his teens.
Wilson held that job for more than five decades, and in the course of that time he played onstage with a Who's Who of the most influential country musicians in the world.
“We would work with anybody who came in and didn’t have a band. Or we would work individually different assignments or just part of [an artist’s] band,” he said in an interview with NAMM. “You always had to be there and ready to go, you know — a very complex job, really.”
His tenure at the Opry came to an end in November of 2006, when he quit the house band after 53 years, claiming that he was being excluded from the televised segments of the Opry broadcasts, which paid more than the portions that aired on the radio.
Wilson passed away in Nashville as a result of complications from cancer. According to his funeral notice, there will be a visitation at Woodbine Hickory Chapel in Nashville from 2-8PM on Sunday (March 1).
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