Longtime ‘Hee Haw,’ Grand Ole Opry Pianist Jerry Whitehurst Dead at 84
Jerry Whitehurst, who carved out a decades-long career as one of the most sought-after musicians in Nashville, has died. According to his obituary, Whitehurst died on Sunday (Oct. 30) at the age of 84, surrounded by his family.
Born Gerald Thomas Whitehurst on May 12, 1938, in Nashville, Whitehurst was a very prominent piano player in Nashville's country music scene, with a long list of studio and television credits. His studio credits included songs he recorded with Johnny Paycheck, Johnny Cash, Pat Boone, Lester Flatt, Ernest Tubb, Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Porter Wagoner and more, but television is what gave Whitehurst his highest visibility.
Whitehurst worked as a pianist, and oftentimes as musical director on a number of prominent country music television shows over the years, including the Grand Ole Opry, Hee Haw, Pop Goes the Country, the Bobby Lord Show and Dolly Parton’s variety show, Dolly. He was longtime friends with Ralph Emery and collaborated with him many times over the years, including a high-profile stint on the long-running cable show Nashville Now. Whitehurst also composed the theme song for Nashville Now.
The musician was so in demand as a player that, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, he was making 500 television appearances a year by the late '80s.
Jerry Whitehurst is survived by his wife, Linda Mealer Whitehurst; two daughters, Terry Dugger and Lisa Hall (Bryan); one son, Gary Whitehurst (Ashley); three stepchildren, Jamie Gentry, Julie Tankersley (Brad) and Jennifer Smith (Lance); two sisters, Brenda Gregory (Charlie) and Connie Baker (Richard); one brother, Byron Whitehurst; twelve grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Whitehurst's cause of death has not been disclosed publicly.