Rick Wright, guitarist for Grand Ole Opry star Connie Smith, died on Sunday (Feb. 7) in a car accident near his home in White House, Tenn. He was 57.

According to the Tennessean, Richard W. Fagel Wright was involved in a two-car crash on Highway 31W near Marlin Road. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Wright was a member of Smith's backing band, the Sundowners, for 17 years. He performed and sang with Smith on tour, at the Grand Ole Opry and more, and his talent was widely admired.

"It was always interesting to watch other guitarists in the wings watching him onstage," says Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs.

Wright was born on Oct. 31, 1958, and grew up in Oklahoma. His aspirations were in music, and he moved to Nashville to pursue a career, eventually landing his spot with Smith. In 2011, he played on her most recent album, Long Line of Heartaches.

“He played from the heart,” Smith reminisces. “It’s going to be hard to look to my right [during a performance] and not see him there grinning at me.”

Not only was Wright a joy to be around onstage, he was also a friendly guy offstage. Whether he was helping Smith navigate her cell phone, telling stories or playfully arguing with bass player Rod Hamm about fantasy football, Wright exuded love. Smith recalls that he'd often bring dessert on the bus “just because he thought I needed it."

"He had a heart so big that he’d do anything for you," she adds.

In addition to playing with Smith, Wright also played with the Music City Playboys and frequently played on Lower Broadway, simply because of his love for music.

"If we weren't working, he was playing somewhere else, because he just loved to play," Smith explains. "I think that any musician who played with Rick became his buddy."

Wright is survived by his wife Sherrie, his son, his mother Linda, and his brother Steve.

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