Rick Wright, who has served as the guitarist for Country Music Hall of Famer Connie Smith for many years, was killed in a car accident near his home in Tennessee on Sunday (Feb. 7).

The Tennessean newspaper reports that Wright, 57, died in a two-car accident while driving near his house in White House, Tenn.

He was recognized within the business as an outstanding talent. "Rick Wright was an extraordinary guitar player and he was greatly admired by fellow musicians," Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs says. "It was always interesting to watch other guitarists in the wings watching him onstage."

Richard W. Fagel Wright grew up in Oklahoma before moving to Music City to pursue his music career, and worked with Smith for 17 years in her backing band, the Sundowners, playing guitar and singing on her live dates, and also in the studio for her most recent album, Long Line of Heartaches, in 2011.

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

Smith recalls Wright as a pleasure to be around offstage, too, spending hours telling stories on the bus or playfully arguing over fantasy football, and bringing dessert back to the bus “just because he thought I needed it. He had a heart so big that he’d do anything for you.”

That included playing with an assortment of local Nashville musicians at various venues on Lower Broadway when he wasn't on the road with Smith.

"If we weren't working, he was playing somewhere else, because he just loved to play," Smith observes. "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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