Roy Huskey, Jr.

Roy Huskey, Jr.

Roy M. Huskey, Jr. (December 17, 1956 - September 6, 1997) was a prominent American upright bass player in country music from Nashville, Tennessee. Huskey performed alongside musicians such as Chet Atkins, Garth Brooks, Johnny Cash, Vince Gill, George Jones, Steve Earle and many others. His father, Roy M. "Junior" Huskey was also a notable bass player.


Huskey began his career at the age of 16 backing up Del Wood on the "Grand Ole Opry" in 1971.Ledgin, Stephanie P. "Last Chorus: Roy Huskey Jr. 1956-1997" "Sing Out!", 42:3 (Winter 1997), p.28-29] His first job as a touring musician was with Roy Acuff as one of his Smoky Mountain Boys. Eventually his work spanned a range of music styles including bluegrass, country, folk, Cajun and folk-rock.

Huskey received a Grammy with Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers for their 1992 live album "At the Ryman". He was also honored with a number of "Bass Player of the Year" awards from organizations such as the IBMA, SPBGMA, and ACM.

Huskey frequently performed dressed simply in a plaid shirt while smoking a cigar (often King Edward brand). He was often noted for his "rare musical intuitiveness" and late in life spoke of his ability to hear music in colors (see synesthesia).


Huskey died of cancer at Columbia Centennial Medical Center, Nashville, Tennessee on September 6, 1997. He was 40 years at the time of his death. Country musician Marty Stuart told "The Tennessean" "Roy Huskey was a pure original state of the art, bona fide, textbook example of a bass-playing genius, truly irreplaceable." [ "Press Release: Roy Huskey Jr., Acoustic Bass Ace, Dies of Cancer"] ,, September 8, 1997]

Acoustic musician and friend John Hartford said, "In as much as the bass is the heartbeat of country music, and in as much as he was country music's most important bass player, I would say country music has just had a major heart attack."

Sam Bush recorded a tribute, "Song for Roy", with help from Jon Randall, Emmylou Harris, and Byron House. The tribute appears on Bush's 1998 album, "Howlin' at the Moon".

Roy Huskey Jr. left behind a wife, Lisa Huskey, and sons,Taylor Huskey and JT Huskey, who performs in a band called The Howling Brothers.

Notable instruments

In 2006, the Country Music Hall of Fame ran an exhibit called "Big Bass Men" in tribute to Junior Huskey and Roy Huskey, Jr. The display featured an upright bass—made in Czeckoslovakia in the 1880s—that both father and son had used on countless recordings. [ Archive Spotlight Series] from the Country Music Hall of Fame web site] Another notable instrument Huskey inherited from his father was a Gibson 1920 Style-J mando bass. The elder Huskey (confusingly nicknamed "Junior") owned two of the Style-J instruments and had given one to Roy Acuff. The other remained in the Roy Huskey, Jr. estate following his death and was on loan for a time to bass player Dave Pomeroy. [Pomeroy, Dave, [ "1920 Gibson Style J Mando Bass"] , "Bass Player" (online edition), April, 2007]


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