Richard “Rick” Vanaugh, whose drum skills were spotlighted for several decades on recordings and live stage performances of artists ranging from Kitty Wells to Lorrie Morgan, died Tuesday in Nashville. Vanaugh was also a longtime member of Nashville’s Western Swing-influenced Time Jumpers band, which includes country icon Vince Gill. The veteran musician had been diagnosed with terminal liver disease and given just a short time to live. He was 61.
A May 22nd benefit for the musician, held at the Nashville Palace near the Grand Ole Opry House, drew an estimated 400 family members and friends. Born in Youngstown, Ohio, one of his earliest Music City gigs was backing country superstar Charlie Louvin, after which he played for Kitty Wells and the duo of Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely, with subsequent gigs backing Dottie West and Mel Tillis. He also was featured on the Nashville Network series’ Church Street Station and New Country. In 1989, Vanaugh began a five-year stint playing for Opry star Lorrie Morgan, and was featured on her 1991 LP, Something in Red.
In 1998, Vanaugh replaced Time Jumpers’ drummer Kenny Malone, at which time the group with the ever-evolving lineup began weekly appearances at Music City’s Station Inn. In addition to the group’s 2007 debut LP, On the Air, and their 2012 album, Jumpin’ Time, he appeared on Gill’s 2011 release, Guitar Slinger. Other albums on which he was featured include a 2003 all-star tribute to Patsy Cline, 2010’s Coal Miner’s Daughter: A Tribute to Loretta Lynn.
Funeral arrangements and further details have yet to be announced.