Bee Spears, Willie Nelson's bassist for more than four decades, died of accidental exposure at his Nashville-area home after he slipped and fell late Thursday (Dec. 8) outside his motor home. He was 62. Temperatures in Middle Tennessee dropped to 25 degrees Thursday. Born Dan Edward Spears, he was a native of Helotes, Texas, and joined Nelson's band in 1968 after being recommended by veteran steel guitarist Jimmy Day. In addition to his work as a touring musician, he recorded with Nelson on numerous albums, including classics such as Red Headed Stranger, Stardust and Always on My Mind. He also played on recordings with Waylon Jennings, Jerry Jeff Walker, Guy Clark and the Highwaymen, the supergroup that featured Nelson, Jennnings, Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson. His involvement in Nelson's band led to acting roles in films such as Honeysuckle Rose, Songwriter and Red Headed Stranger and the Monk TV series. A message posted Friday on Nelson's website stated, "We are deeply saddened by the death of family member Dan "Bee" Spears, longtime friend and bassist for Willie Nelson & Family. We are still in shock and gathering details as the day continues." Nelson completed a series of tour dates on Nov. 19. His next concerts are scheduled for Dec. 30-31 in Austin, Texas.
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