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In Passing

01:01 PM Monday 12/12/11 | |

Longtime Willie Nelson bassist Dan “Bee” Spears, former Eric Clapton keyboardist Dick Sims, and Jamaican record producer Philip Burrell died earlier this month.

Dan “Bee” Spears was found dead outside his home in Nashville Dec. 8, according to Austin, Texas, television station KXAN. The Tennessean reports that the bassist died because of exposure to the elements after slipping and falling outside. He was 62.

Spears joined Willie Nelson’s band in 1968 when he was 19 years old. The bassist is featured on several of Nelson’s biggest albums including 1973’s Shotgun Willie, 1975’s Red Headed Stranger, 1976’s The Troublemaker and 1978’s Stardust. Spears appeared in a number of films alongside Nelson including 1980’s “Honeysuckle Rose” and 1984’s “Songwriter.” He also recorded with acts including Waylon Jennings, Leon Russell and Guy Clark, according to The Tennessean.

Nelson posted the following statement on his website Friday:

“We are deeply saddened by the death of Family member Dan ‘Bee’ Spears, long time friend and bassist for Willie Nelson and Family.

“We are still in shock and gathering details as the day continues. He apparently died of accidental exposure at his property near Nashville, Tenn.”

Dick Sims is another musician that passed away last week. The 60-year-old keyboardist died Dec. 8 after battling cancer, according to Rolling Stone.

Sims, bassist Carl Radle and drummer Jamie Oldaker formed the country/rock Tulsa County Band and became known for developing the “Tulsa sound.” The group first backed Eric Clapton on his 1974 album 461 Ocean Boulevard and then continued playing and recording with the guitarist for nine years.

Sims also played with a long list of acts including Bob Seger, Etta James, Stephen Stills, Carlos Santana, Perry Farrell, J.J. Cale, Peter Tosh and Vince Gill. He released his only solo album, Within Arm’s Reach, in 2008.

Clapton dedicated his Dec. 10 show in Tokyo to Sims, according to a post on the Eric Clapton fan site Where’s Eric!

Philip Burrell died Dec. 3 because of a heart attack, two weeks after being hospitalized for a mild stroke, according to the New York Times. He was 57.

The Times described Burrell as “one of the most prolific and influential Jamaican record producers of the last 20 years.”

Burrell began his career in 1984 by founding the short-lived Lions & Kings label. Later that decade he founded Exterminator Records, which was renamed Xterminator. His wife, Carmelita Bailey Burrell, told the Times he named the label after his desire to eliminate sexually explicit lyrics from reggae music.

Fellow producer Donovan German of Penthouse Records praised Burrell for giving new artists opportunities. Burrell worked with reggae stars including Sanchez, Pinchers, Luciano and Sizzla. He teamed up with his son Kareem Burrell on his most recent productions of emerging acts Jesse Royal and Kayla Bliss.

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