R.I.P. Acclaimed Pedal Steel Guitarist Bucky Baxter

He performed with Bob Dylan, Steve Earle, R.E.M. and more

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished May 26, 2020

Bucky Baxter — an acclaimed pedal steel guitarist who performed with the likes of Bob Dylan, Steve Earle and the Dukes, R.E.M., Ben Folds and more — has died. Baxter's son, singer-songwriter Rayland Baxter, confirmed his father's passing in an Instagram post today, though a cause of death was note revealed. He was 65.

Born William Baxter in Melbourne, FL, in 1955, the artist picked up the pedal steel in the 1970s ahead of meeting Earle the following decade. As a member of the Dukes, Baxter would lend guitar and vocals to Earle's 1986 debut Guitar Town, 1987's Exit 0 and 1988's seminal Copperhead Road.

While touring with Earle, Baxter would meet Bob Dylan after the songwriting icon inquired about pedal steel lessons. He would join Dylan's band in 1992, hitting the road on the artist's "Neverending Tour" and lending his playing to 1997's Time Out of Mind.

Asked by Dylan fan zine On the Tracks [via Rolling Stone] about his relationship with the iconic artist, Baxter offered, "I just worked for him. And we had a good working relationship...but I never went to his house for Thanksgiving, or anything. I think that's why I lasted so long — I conducted myself professionally and let him be. I never bugged him."

Baxter would make his solo debut in 1999 with Most Likely, No Problem. His credits also include guitar playing on R.E.M.'s Green and Ben Folds's Songs for Silverman, in addition to albums from Kasey Musgraves, Ryan Adams, the Maine, Billy Ray Cyrus, Cerys Matthews and more.

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