Benson Hometown Legend
The man known as the “king” among Nashville, Tennessee session guitarists, Jimmy Capps died Monday night at the age of 81.
Shortly after he was born in Fayetteville in 1939 his family moved to Benson. Jimmy always called Benson his hometown. At the age of 19 he was hired by the Louvin Brothers. From there he climbed the ladder of Country Music and for the past 50 years had been a regular guitarist on the Grand Ole Opry.
Capps had been a staple at the Opry and country music, having played in hundreds of classic recordings including George Jones He Stopped Loving Her Today, Kenny Rogers The Gambler, and Ronnie Milsap tunes including Pure Love, The Girl Who Waits on Tables and Legend in My Time, and Stand By Your Man by Tammy Wynette.
Mr. Capps returned to Benson in May 2019 for a concert at Crossroads Church and to sign copies of his book The Man in Back. His shows were sold out.
Singer-songwriter Brian Hedges said, “…if anyone ever experienced the Opry firsthand, or worked in any studio in Nashville for the past 50 years, they knew and respected Jimmy Capps.”
On social media, The Oak Ridge Boys said, “We lost a dear friend last night… legendary guitarist Jimmy Capps went home… this is another loss that is hard to process… the heavenly choir has gained one of the finest players to ever play… and quite frankly one of the finest men to ever live.”
Retired radio station owner Carl Lamm of Four Oaks said, “Jimmy Capps was a dear lifelong friend I have known since he was about 12 years old. He was one of the greatest guitarist this country has ever produced. He played on more number one hits in country music than any other guitarist of all time. I got to know him when he was playing with Jim Thornton and the Smile Awhile Boys in Benson.”
In an interview last year with The Daily Record, Capps said, “A lot of the other country music shows on Saturday night in Cincinnati, Chicago, Shreveport and Wheeling, they all fell by the wayside,” Capps said. “And that may be the reason the Opry has lasted. So I really feel very fortunate to work there.”
Capps did as many as 500 recording sessions in one year. “I don’t mean I love every song we play. There’s some things I’d rather not play,” he said. “You have to take the bad with good. And it’s not necessarily bad, it’s just music I wouldn’t have chosen. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
Asked in 2019 while in Benson if he had one favorite song, Capps replied, ” “I can’t think of one,” he said. “I’ve got so many favorites that I can’t think of one in particular.” Capps also sat down for an interview in front of his home place last year.
Benson Mayor Jerry Medlin said, “His 80th birthday was while he was in Benson last year. I enjoyed being with him. Jimmy has done so much for country music.” Mayor Medlin said the Town of Benson would issue a Proclamation in remembrance of Jimmy Capps in the near future.
Among his many awards and recognitions, Capps won the Nashville Golden R.O.P.E. Award for musician of the year in 2001 and was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Family in 2014.
Jimmy Capps is survived by his wife Michele. Mr. Capps cause of death has not been released. Funeral arrangements have not been announced.