More Tragedy: George Strait Drummer & Tour Manager Tom Foote Has Died

This story has been updated.

The tragedies continue to accrue for George Strait’s musical family and crew in 2024, with one of Strait’s long-running right-hand men passing away after losing two other important members of his entourage earlier in March.

Tom Foote goes so far back with George Strait, it was Foote who helped hire George in 1975 to front the San Marcos, TX band called Stoney Ridge. Foote founded Stoney Ridge with bass player Terry Hale, steel guitarist Mike Daily, Ron Cabal on lead guitar, and singer Jay Dominguez at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos, now known as Texas State. They played mostly honky tonk and Western Swing covers.

But when singer Jay Dominguez left the band, a search went out for a new singer. An agricultural science student at Southwest Texas named George Strait answered a flyer, and became the new frontman. Foote briefly left the band after graduating college, but returned shortly after it reformed as the “Ace in the Hole Band” behind Strait, which still backs the country legend to this day.

The Ace in the Hole Band’s first official gig was on October 13, 1975 at the Cheatham Street Warehouse, with Ted Stubblefield on drums. But Tom Foote quickly replaced him later that year. Along with playing drums, Foote was also the de facto manager of the band, booking many of the gigs, and handling the logistics.

“We didn’t even know what success was in the music business or how to get it,”
Foote once said of the group’s early years. “But the first time I heard George sing, I thought, ‘Well, this my chance to find out.’“

Tom Foote would remain Strait’s drummer until 1983 when he was replaced by Roger Montgomery. But Foote stayed on as Strait’s official road manger—a position he held all the way until his death on Monday, April 29th. Foote wasn’t feeling well at a rehearsal on Monday, and was later found dead. No cause of death has been given at this time.

“I was never the greatest drummer in the world. I could play a good Texas shuffle and a good Bob Wills tune, but I’d always done the business and the booking,”
Foote once said. “I always enjoyed the business end, so it’s worked out.”

Tom Brooks Foote was raised in Houston, and graduated from Bellaire High School before moving to San Marcos for college. Foote came from a creative family. His uncle was playwright Horton Foote, famous for the 1962 screenplay for To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as for writing the 1982 award-winning country music film Tender Mercies starring Robert Duvall.

Tom Foote’s death comes after George Strait’s business manager Erv Woolsey passed away, as did long time fiddle and mandolin player for the Ace in the Hole Band, Gene Elders, both on March 20th. Foote had recently traveled to Nashville to pay his respects to Woolsey.

Steel guitar player Mike Hale, and bassist Terry Hale are the only remaining original members of the Ace in the Hole Band.

George Strait released the following statement about the death of Tom Foote:

“We lost another one of our good friends and a huge part of our musical journey yesterday. Tom Foote, our one-time drummer and long-time road manager for around 48 years, suddenly passed away at his home after our rehearsal. The band and I were with him most of the afternoon and he was great. Just doing what he loved to do which was making sure we were taken care of. 2024 is taking its toll on the Ace in the Hole group. We’re all heartbroken to say the least. Rest in peace brother Tom. You will be hugely missed. I’ll see you down the road amigo.”

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