George Strait Suffers Another Devastating Loss: Mourns Longtime Band Member, Gene Elders

“Hard to believe we lost two of our music family members on the same day,” Strait shared.

By

Lauren Jo Black

| Posted on

March 21, 2024

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George Strait; Photo by Jill Trunnell

Country music icon George Strait has suffered yet another devastating loss. On Wednesday, March 20, just hours after his longtime manager, Erv Woosley, passed away, his longtime Ace in the Hole band member Gene Elders, died. 

The Texas native shared a heartfelt tribute to Elders on social media early Thursday morning. 

“Hard to believe we lost two of our music family members on the same day. Our Ace In the Hole treasured band member Gene Elders passed away yesterday afternoon shortly after we lost Erv,” Strait wrote. “All of our prayers go out to both families. Me and the band won’t ever be the same without our brother Gene. We loved him so much. Go play with Mike again Geno. We’ll come join you guys later.”

Elders, who hails from Austin, Texas, was a member of Strait’s Ace In the Hole band since 1984. According to his official website, he played fiddle and Mandolin for Strait and was previously an 11-year member of Lyle Lovett’s Large Band. 

In addition to his time as a touring musician, Elders was also a studio musician and played on records by Strait, Lovett, Joan Baez, Lucinda Williams, Kevin Fowler, and more. 

Photo Courtesy Gene Elders.com
Photo Courtesy Gene Elders.com

He also was a composer for film and recorded violin, mandolin, concertina, octave viola, octave mandolin, and full string sections for artists around the world. 

Further details surrounding Elders’ death, including his cause of death, are unknown. 

Gene Elders passed away on the same day as Strait’s manager of 45 years, Erv Woosley. Woosley, 80, died due to complications from surgery and was under doctors’ care at the time of his death.  

Strait remembered his longtime friend and manager on social media following his passing.  

“My manager for around 45 years and most importantly my friend for even longer, Erv Woolsey passed away this morning. He had complications from a surgery and just couldn’t overcome it,” he wrote. “He was a very tough man, and fought hard, but sadly it was just too much. We will miss him so very much and will never forget all the time we had together. Won’t ever be the same without him.”

Woolsey was responsible for George Strait’s signing to MCA Records in the early 1980s. At the time he was working for the label and later departed his role at MCA to focus on managing George Strait’s career. 

Fans rallied around George Strait to share their condolences on social media after the deaths of Erv Woosley and Gene Elders.  

Mike Dungan, George Strait, Erv Woolsey and Louis Messina in 2012; Photo by Rick Diamond
Mike Dungan, George Strait, Erv Woolsey and Louis Messina in 2012; Photo by Rick Diamond

One user wrote, “Oh my goodness, two friends in the same day! Stay strong !! I’m very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you George, all of the band members, friends and his family.” 

Another added, “Such a terrible loss of two great and talented men in Country Music and the George Strait Family. Prayers lifted to all the families. Thank you Erv for bringing us George and thank you Gene for you and your beautiful fiddle.”

While George Strait is retired from traditional touring, he continues to sell out select stadiums each year. His next scheduled tour date is set for May 4, 2024 at Lucas Oil Stadium with Chris Stapleton and Little Big Town. It will mark the first time Strait will take the stage without the presence of his longtime friends, Woolsey and Elders, which will certainly be a significant adjustment after many years of shared musical journeys.

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Lauren Jo Black

Written by

Lauren Jo Black

Lauren Jo Black, a University of Central Florida graduate, has immersed herself in the world of country music for over 15 years. In 2008, she co-founded CountryMusicIsLove, eventually selling it to a major record label in 2015. Following the rebranding of the website to Sounds Like Nashville, Black served as Editor-in-Chief for two and a half years. Currently, she assumes the role of Editor-in-Chief at Country Now and oversees Country Now’s content and digital footprint. Her extensive experience also encompasses her previous role as a Country Music Expert Writer for Answers.com and her work being featured on Forbes.com. She’s been spotlighted among Country Aircheck’s Women of Influence and received the 2012 Rising Star Award from the University of Central Florida. Black also spent time in front of the camera as host of Country Now Live, which brought live music directly to fans in 2021 when the majority of concerts were halted due to the pandemic. During this time, she hosted 24 weeks of live concerts via Country Now Live on Twitch with special guests such as Lady A, Dierks Bentley, Jordan Davis, Brett Young, and Jon Pardi. Over the course of her career, she has had the privilege of conducting interviews with some of the industry’s most prominent stars, including Reba McEntire, Blake Shelton, Luke Combs, Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Miranda Lambert, Lainey Wilson, and many others. Lauren Jo Black is a longtime member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.