A country guitarist and his wife were found dead on a road near the Mojave Desert by California authorities last week.
The Bakersfield Californian reported that Larry and Betty Petree, who had been married for 60 years, were found dead in their vehicle in a remote area of Kern County, according to the performer’s cousin Laurie Sanders.
“At this moment, I’m not sure exactly what happened,” Sanders told the outlet. “What were they doing out there? They don’t travel that far away from home.”
Sanders noted that Petree got lost on his way to a music gig weeks ago.
Kern County Sheriff’s Office deputies said in a press release that they found Larry Petree sitting in the driver’s seat of the vehicle, and found Betty Petree leaning against the rear tire, the department said in a press release. Homicide detectives were not called to the scene, and KCSO did not immediately identify the bodies as belonging to the Petrees.
“There isn’t any evidence at this moment that would indicate there is anything criminal about these deaths,” Public Information Officer Lori Meza of KCSO told Fox News.
Owner of BScene Event Photography, Debbie Bohan, said that Larry Petree, who played steel guitar, was a “true country gentleman.”
“He was one of Bakersfield’s Best! He was funny and friendly always flashing his genuine smile,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “They both will be greatly missed! … Praying for the family and all the friends whose lives they touched. May they RIP together.”
Country music singer-songwriter Mario Carboni lauded Petree for his contributions not only as a great steel guitar player, but for his quality of character and kindness.
“Larry worked extensively with Red Simpson at Trout’s and his playing can be heard on Red’s stellar recordings of ‘Lucky Ol Colorado'” and other selections, Carboni said.
“Everyone who is a musician in Bakersfield knows who Larry Petree was,” said Carboni. “Everyone loves him. He was an asset to any group he was in.”
Petree was born in Paden, OK, in 1933, and moved with his family to Bakersfield when he was a child. He was a graduate of Bakersfield High School, served in the U.S. Army and worked for the Kern County Fire Department.
Petree never toured with a band and instead played with innumerable acts throughout his lengthy career. The Bakersfield Californian called him a “local steel guitar master and Bakersfield Sound legend,” reporting that he “never seemed to lose his passion for playing music and flashing his contagious smile.”
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