Dave Roe Obituary, Death – David Rorick, widely recognized as Dave Roe, still finds himself pondering the improbable journey that has led him to where he stands today. Approximately 43 years have elapsed since he departed Hawaii and embarked on a life as a bassist in Nashville. Armed with nothing more than boundless enthusiasm, an unrelenting work ethic, and a profound affection for the open road, Roe ventured into a legendary career that spanned four decades, punctuated by collaborations with some of the world’s most eminent folk, Americana, blues, and country music luminaries.
On a Tuesday morning in early May, while pausing from tending to the lawn surrounding his residence just outside Nashville, Roe appears almost baffled when recounting the steps he’s taken: touring and recording alongside Johnny Cash and Charlie Louvin, providing musical support for the likes of Dwight Yoakam and Loretta Lynn, serving as the in-house bassist for Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye Sound, and establishing himself as a highly sought-after session musician entrenched in the Nashville gig circuit. “A jack-of-all-trades and an expert at none,” he humorously remarks.
Nevertheless, Roe’s self-taught and intuitive foray into the world of bass has rendered him a stylistic chameleon, deeply attuned to the rhythms and nuances of each genre he embraces. His playing effortlessly weaves together influences from 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s radio pop, the twang of his mother’s country records, the serene confidence of West Coast Americana, and the vivacity and panache of funk and disco. His bass lines possess a timeless quality, reflecting the artistry of a musician who, through an embodied and cerebral journey, has mastered the art of playing the bass in a manner that captivates audiences.
Roe’s trajectory, from a humble cover-band performer in Hawaiian tourist bars to one of the nation’s most sought-after bassists, may defy technical logic on paper. Numerous musicians have embarked on a similar path, yet many have remained confined to their hometowns without ever experiencing significant growth. This narrative doesn’t neatly conform to the algorithmic rhythms of contemporary life. Music, however, transcends algorithms and optimization—at least for now. It remains rooted in feeling, soul, and heart, enhanced by a touch of serendipity.
Roe’s upbringing was shaped by his father, a military man whose duty station brought the family to the heart of the Pacific Ocean—Ewa Beach, located approximately 40 miles from Honolulu on Oahu, Hawaii’s third-largest island. This is where Roe spent his formative years. While he initially explored drumming, the absence of a local bassist in his high school band led to Roe taking up the bass guitar. His first bass wasn’t a true bass; it was a 6-string Silvertone electric guitar that Roe reconfigured with bass strings. “That didn’t last very long,” he recalls.
Financial constraints prevented Roe from purchasing an authentic bass guitar. Consequently, in 1969, his high school sweetheart’s father accompanied him to a music store in Honolulu, where he co-signed for a Fender Jazz Bass and an aged Guild amp for Roe. “That’s when I got my first really good gear,” he reminisces.
Acquiring a legitimate bass was only the beginning; learning to play it presented an entirely different challenge, one that Roe tackled solo—he has never received formal instruction. “I sat down with records and taught myself,” he explains. “I was a big Top 40 enthusiast. I loved anything that was on the radio.” His playlist encompassed legendary acts such as Jimi Hendrix, the Beatles, Cream, and the Rolling Stones.
“That’s really where I cut my teeth,” Roe continues, “just playing the blues and hippie rock and stuff like that.” Roe’s inaugural band, a power trio that specialized in covers of Chuck Berry and other early rock ‘n’ roll pioneers, eventually earned the opportunity to open for Grand Funk Railroad in Honolulu. Dave Roe. The man. A generous soul with the deepest groove ever etched into the bass. Nashville and the music world at large suffered an immeasurable loss yesterday. Dave, your absence will leave a profound void. We will fondly remember your authenticity and kindness during your encounters with us at Dee’s and with everyone you touched throughout the years.