Famed drummer Kenny Buttrey - one of the session celebrants of the sixties country rock nuptials in Nashville - has died at 59.

Buttrey - a founding member of seminal progressive country bands Area Code 615 and Barefoot Jerry - succumbed to cancer on Sunday September 12 at his Music City home.

Kenny played in those bands with a hard core of fellow session supremos whose talents embroidered a hit tableau that has stood the test of time.

He began his career with the Nashville band, Charlie McCoy and the Escorts, a staple in Printers Alley - the embryonic down town night club precinct.

< Area Code 615 Cover

His peers in Area Code 615 included McCoy, Mac Gayden, Wayne Moss, Weldon Myrick, Buddy Spicher, Bobby Thompson and David Briggs.

Area Code 615 took its name from the Nashville phone code and recorded its self-titled debut in 1969 and Trip In The Country in 1970.

They were re-released in 1974 as a double vinyl disc.

Area Code 615 played in public only twice - at San Francisco's Fillmore West and on Johnny Cash's ABC-TV series.

The group's Stone Fox Chase harmonica instrumental was adopted as the theme for BBC-TV's Old Grey Whistle Test in the 1970s.

Buttrey was a member of Barefooot Jerry when it released Southern Delight - the first of its seven albums - in 1971.

Barefoot Jerry was popular in Japan and Europe and once played 31 straight sold-out concerts at Paris' Olympia Theatre.

It also featured in famed 1976 documentary Heartworn Highways, released on DVD here by Shock Records, with guests diverse as David Allan Coe, Guy Clark, Steve Young, John Hiatt, Larry Jon Wilson, Charlie Daniels, Richard Dobson and the late Townes Van Zandt.


As a drummer Buttrey was unique - he was the band arranger on sessions with artists diverse as Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Jimmy Buffett.

He played on classic songs ranging from Dylan's All Along The Watchtower, Young's Tonight's The Night to Buffett's smash hit Margaritaville.

Buttrey also earned acclaim for his work on Harvest and After The Goldrush with the Canadian legend Young with whom he toured Australian on earlier sojourns.

< Jimmy Buffett

Young's band included Ben Keith (pedal steel), Tim Drummond (bass), Jack Nitzsche (piano) and Danny Whitten (guitar and vocals).

Buttrey played on Dylan discs Blonde on Blonde, Nashville Skyline, John Wesley Harding and Self-Portrait as well as accompanying Dylan on the Johnny Cash Show on TV in 1969.

He also featured on at least three albums by unsung Dylan protégé Eric Andersen - Blue River, A Country Dream and a self-titled disc.

But Buttrey was better known for many Buffett discs including Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes (which featured Margaritaville) and Linda Ronstadt's Silk Purse.

He also played on major albums by Bob Seger, Dan Fogleberg, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Donovan, J.J. Cale, Joan Baez, Kris Kristofferson, the Everly Brothers, Ramblin' Jack Elliott, the Beau Brummels and John Hammond.

Eric Andersen

Other clients include the late Elvis Presley, Steve Goodman and George Harrison.


"All of the guys, Pete Wade on Dobro and rhythm guitar, and of course Kenny Buttrey, added something to my album that really hasn't been heard since," Ken Lauber told CMT columnist Chet Flippo in Nashville.

"A kind of arranged jam-type backup, which later became the Area Code 615 format.

Buttrey really did most of the arranging right from the drums. He always did that on sessions. Probably the only real band leader-arranger, as a drummer, that Nashville ever knew. Those were the real good times in Nashville. Kristofferson, Baez, Neil Young, Mickey Newbury, Jerry Jeff Walker all cutting week after week with this great bunch of musicians who could catch bass (the fish) as well as they could play music. There's never been a studio band out of Nashville that has had as many hits, with such a diverse list of artists to their credit."

Buttrey's wishes were to be cremated, according to his wife Cheri, who helped organise a memorial service.

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