He was the sound behind The Sound.
Bob Wootton was rhythm guitarist for the Tennessee Three - the band behind the famous Johnny Cash - since 1968. He passed away today (April 9) at age 75.
Wootton perfected Cash's trademark "boom-chicka-boom" sound, and kept the music alive after the Man in Black's death. The band had an affinity for Canada as well, tracing back decades. Of particular coincidence, they played for the grand opening of the Northern Lights Palace in Melfort, Sask. Wootton and the Tennessee Three were able to return 25 years later for the venue's anniversary celebrations.
I had the chance to meet and interview Wootton and his family a few times during their visits to Canada. He was quick to tell amazing stories of the band's life, and Wootton's relationship with Cash. The men were like brothers, in fact, sometimes getting confused for each other by people.
During the Tennessee Three's show in Brooks, Alta., Wootton had some medical issues. Thus, his first sights of the City of 100 Hellos was from a hospital bed. Once Wootton was settled, a shift nurse shyly approached him, requesting his autograph. Wootton happily oblige, and the happy nurse exclaimed, "Thank you, Mr. Presley!" The obvious case of mistaken identity made Wootton chuckle, and stood out enough to relay the story to a young newspaper editor (that was me!).
Fame didn't seem to inflate the collective ego of the Wootton family, and the band was a family affair.
Bob told me in Melfort that having his wife and daughters join him on the road was such a treat, given all the years he had to spend in a tour bus without them.
In a sad twist of irony, the Wootton family announced in 2014 that Bob had been diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. This meant he could no longer perform. The man who knew every guitar lick in the Cash repertoire, was recruited into the Tennessee Three from the audience at a show to replace Luther Perkins (who died in a housefire), and perfected one of music's most recognizable styles could no longer make his fingers dance across the fretboard.
Thank you for all the musical memories, Bob.