Multi-instrumentalist Hubert Dwane “Hoot” Hester, 65, a master fiddler who played with legends ranging from Ray Charles to Earl Scruggs and was a member of the Grand Ole Opry staff band for more than a dozen years, has died. Eleven months ago he was diagnosed with cancer. For over 40 years he made music in Nashville.
Hester was born Aug. 13, 1951 on a small Kentucky farm near Louisville. He came from a musical family and began playing the fiddle as a child. He began his career as a professional musician during the early 1970s with The Whites. Upon relocating to Nashville in 1973, Hester found work backing Donna Fargo, Mel Tillis and others.
In addition to his work as a session musician, Hester played on multiple television shows, including “Nashville Alive” and “Pop Goes the Country.” When the program “Nashville Now” was created in the 1980s, Hester was hired to be the house band’s fiddler and utility player. That position, said WSM DJ and Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs, likely made Hester “the most visible fiddle player in America at that time: He was on television five nights a week.”
“He was always a positive person to be around,” Stubbs added. “He was a dependable person, a team player, and a tasteful musician. Whatever was required of him, he did it well.”
After “Nashville Now” went off the air in the mid-1990s, Hester spent time in Steve Wariner’s band and was one of the founding members of the Western Swing outfit The Time Jumpers. In 2000, he was hired as a member of the Opry staff band, where countless listeners heard his fiddle over the radio every weekend.