Revered Mandolin Player & Multi-Instrumentalist Billy Cook Has Died

photo: Jim Dier

Revered mandolin player, guitarist, banjoist, dobro, and steel guitar player Billy Cook has died. Known for working with band such as Bob Wayne and the Outlaw Carnies and the .357 String Band, Billy Cook was considered an essential player in the underground country and roots scene that exploded in the late 00’s leading into the 2010’s. He was also a singer and songwriter who played with his own band as well.

Billy Cook had been a guitarist for many years and was performing with the band Corrine Rose when he was picked up as a primary player in the Outlaw Carnies behind underground country artist Bob Wayne. While playing a show in Sturgis in 2007, he first rubbed elbows with the .357 String Band outfit. In June of 2009 when the .357 String Band parted ways mandolin player Jayke Orvis, Billy Cook joined the band full time, touring with them and appearing on their 2010 album Lightning from the North.

During this time, Billy Cook was famous for showing up at the shows of other underground roots artists and sitting in, or comprising parts of pickup bands behind other performers. Through this work and always being ready with a big smile, Billy Cook became a beloved member of the music community. When the .357 String Band officially broke up in November of 2011, Billy Cook continued on collaborating in other projects, and released a solo album in 2013 called Left To Remember. The title track was recorded with the .357 String Band.

Billy Cook was part of a nucleus of underground country players that helped seed the current independent country music revolution. Cook performed with Possessed by Paul James, The Calamity Cubes, Billy Don Burns, and fellow .357 String band member Joseph Huber just to name a few. Cook also performed at events such as the Muddy Roots Festival, Farmageddon Fest, Ruckus in the Boonies, Pondstock, and other events that emerged in the post punk roots resurgence.

More recently Billy Cook was playing with Canadian folk artist Dana Sipos and others.

“Thanks for the miles brother. The early ones are the most magic and important and you were there for me …. RIP Billy Cook see you in Hillbilly Heaven,” Bob Wayne said at the news.

Billy Cook’s age and cause of death is currently unknown by Saving Country Music. More information on the death of Billy Cook if/when it becomes available.

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