Beloved veteran musician Jimmy Capps, who played on hit songs such as Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler,” George Jones’ “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” and George Strait’s “Amarillo by Morning”, passed away on Monday, June 1, 2020, at 81 years of age. Jimmy was born on May 25, 1939, in Fayetteville, North Carolina to the late Tommie and Alice (Stevens) Capps.
He was a guitarist on the Grand Ole Opry for over sixty-one years – longer than any musician. In 2014, he was inducted into the Musicians Hall of Fame with fellow inductees, Peter Frampton, Will Lee, and Barbara Mandrell, etc. ; in that same year, he was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. In 2015, the Tennessee Senate passed a Joint Resolution recognizing his musical contributions, and it was presented to him on the Senate floor. For his decorated career, in 2012 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Nashville Cats”. In 2018, to mark his sixtieth year at the Grand Ole Opry, the band room was named the “Jimmy Capps Music Room.” Beginning in 2009, he also regularly appeared as “Sheriff” Jimmy Capps on Larry’s Country Diner on RFD-TV. In addition to that show, he also played on many other TV shows throughout his career, like The Statler Brothers Shows, The Wilburn Brothers, CMA shows, etc. Jimmy is also on “Country’s Family Reunion” on RFD-TV.
He began playing the guitar when he was 12. At age 19, he auditioned for the Louvin Brothers and was asked to join the sibling duo by Charlie Louvin. “Thanks to Charlie - I guess I owe my whole career to him.” Jimmy made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry with the Louvins in 1959. He was also in the Opry staff band, playing lead guitar behind the radio show’s guests every week up until his passing.
Along with his onstage work, Capps was an in-demand session musician, known for his smooth playing style of both acoustic and electric guitar, on recordings like Tammy Wynette’s “Stand by Your Man,” Barbara Mandrell’s “I Was Country When Country Wasn’t Cool,” Alan Jackson’s “Here in the Real World”, the Oak Ridge Boys “Elvira”, Ronnie Milsap’s “Smoky Mountain Rain”, Reba McEntire’s “How Blue”, and many others.
Mr. Capps served his country in the United States Army. Jimmy and Michele attended the First Apostolic Church of Nashville.
In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by two brothers.
He is survived by his wife, Michele Voan Capps; two sons, Mark, and his wife, Tara Solomon-Capps, and Jeff Capps; two grandchildren, Summer Capps and Mollie McKenzie Acuff. Mr. Capps is also survived by a host of relatives and friends.
Public visitation for Jimmy Capps was held on Monday June 8th, 3pm-8pm at the First Apostolic Church, 265 Broadmoor Dr, Nashville, TN 37207.
**Due to concerns for everyone’s health and safety, we must ask that attendance at a private service for Jimmy at the Grand Ole Opry House Tuesday - "Call Time" - 1pm be limited. While friends and family members attending the service will be sent instructions concerning arrival at the Opry House and social distancing details, we invite Jimmy’s countless other friends, colleagues, and fans to listen to the service on wsmonline.com. We thank everyone for your understanding as current conditions make a terribly sad time for us even more difficult. Entombment will follow the service in the Historic Spring Hill Cemetery.
Serving as active pallbearers will be, Mark Capps, Jeff Capps, Ben Isaacs, Jimmy Fortune, Moe Bandy, Paul Voan, Chris Malpass, Taylor Malpass, and Mark Wills.
Serving as honorary pallbearers will be, Joe Edwards, John Conlee, Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, Charlie Albertson, Billy Linneman, Johnny & Lisa Carver, Scot England, Larry & Luann Black, Dean & Jean Voan, Gus Arrendale, Sarah Bertozzi, Phil & Renae Johnson, Mona & Dave Brown, Keith & Emy Joe Bilbrey, and the Opry Staff Band – past and present.
The family will be accepting floral arrangements for Mr. Capps. If you wish to contribute in his honor, you may do so to the AFM 257 Vic Willis Emergency Relief Fund (11 Music Circle North – Nashville, TN 37203).
Spring Hill Funeral Home & Cemetery (5110 Gallatin Road Nashville, Tennessee 37216; 615-865-1101) has been entrusted with the final care of Mr. Capps. www.springhillfh.com