Musician dies of heart attack while on tour

Thursday, December 13, 2007 2:51 PM CST

Ralph Ezell, 54, a founding member of the country group Shenandoah and who had recently moved to Sallisaw, died Friday, Nov. 30, 2007, in Pickstown, S.D., of a heart attack while on tour with the band.

Funeral services were held Friday, Dec. 7, 2007, in Union, Miss., at a private family service. A memorial service is being planned in Muscle Shoals, Ala., where the group was formed.

Before helping organize Shenandoah in 1985, Mr. Ezell worked at FAME studios as staff engineer, bass player, studio manager, and as production assistant to Rick Hall.

His recording career with Shenandoah, for which he was bass player, included 13 number one hits, 19 top 10 hits, three gold albums and one platinum album in the 1980s and 1990s. The group won a Grammy award, was named the ACM Vocal Group of the Year, captured a CMA Vocal Event of the Year award and a TNN Viewer’s Choice Award.

The group’s number one hits included “The Church on Cumberland Road,” “Sunday in the South,” “Two Dozen Roses,” “Next to You Next to Me,” “I Wanna Be Loved Like That,” “If Bubba Can Dance,” “Mama Knows” and “Somewhere in the Vicinity of the Heart.”

Mr. Ezell also recorded with some of country music’s greatest stars, such as George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Marty Stuart, T.G. Sheppard, Ronnie Dunn, Mac Davis, Jerry Reed, David Allen Coe, Dobie Gray, the Osmonds, Marie Osmond, Allison Krauss, Jimmy C. Newman, Gus Hardin, The Shooters, Terry Gibbs, Janie Fricke, Johnny Paycheck, Lacy J. Dalton, and Billy Joe Royal.

Mr. Ezell moved to Sallisaw earlier this year to be with his fiancé Tammi Edwards and her two children.

“He loved Sallisaw,” Ms. Edwards said. “He was amazed at how friendly the people are here.”

Mr. Ezell was born in Newton, County, Miss., and was preceded in death by his parents, Connoy Bernard and Irwin McNair Ezell.

Survivors include two daughters, Kristy Ainsworth of Pearl, Miss., and Lindsey Ezell of Nashville, Tenn.; two brothers, Jerry Ezell of Tuscumbia, Ala., and Edward Ezell of Omaha, Neb.; one grandson, Daniel Ainsworth of Pearl; and many other family members and friends.


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