Dee Murray

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Dee Murray
Murray in 1971
Murray in 1971
Background information
Birth nameDavid Murray Oates
Born(1946-04-03)3 April 1946
Gillingham, Kent, England
Died15 January 1992(1992-01-15) (aged 45)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Occupation(s)Musician, songwriter
Instrument(s)Bass guitar, vocals
Years active1960s–1992

David Murray Oates (3 April 1946 – 15 January 1992),[1] known as Dee Murray, was an English bass guitarist. He was best known for his long-time collaboration with Elton John as a member of the Elton John Band.


Murray was born in Gillingham, Kent, England on 3 April 1946.[1] Before joining Elton John as his touring sidemen, Murray and drummer Nigel Olsson were members of the Spencer Davis Group in 1969.[2] In Murray's musician bio in the programme book for 1982's "Jump Up!" tour, Murray recalled when he first took up the bass guitar during his high school years: "Someone put this heavy thing over my shoulder and said, 'Here, you play this!'" Murray quickly established a solid reputation on the instrument. In the Classic Albums documentary on Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, producer Gus Dudgeon lauded Murray's musical ability and said he "hadn't heard a bassist quite as good as him".[3]

Murray and Olsson joined John as his road sidemen in 1970, and first appeared together on disc with John on "Amoreena" from the 1970 studio album Tumbleweed Connection. The following year, they were featured on the live album 17-11-70. While they were John's constant touring bandmates, his record company initially only allowed them to play on just one track per studio album. This changed with Honky Château in 1972 when John exerted some of his skyrocketing popularity at the time to convince DJM to allow Murray and Olsson to also become full-time recording members of his band. Along with new recruit Davey Johnstone on guitar, Murray and Olsson played on John's hit albums, including the milestone album Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, singles, and world tours for several years. In 1975, after recording Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, Murray and Olsson were released from the band because John wanted to achieve a different sound.[4]

Murray and Olsson continued working together as session musicians in Los Angeles. In 1976 they played on Rick Springfield's fourth album Wait for Night. In 1977, Murray briefly joined Procol Harum on a North America tour promoting their last 1970s album, Something Magic, although he never recorded with the group. Between 1978 and 1979, Murray worked as part of Alice Cooper's backing band.[1] According to music site, he played on Cooper's hit album From the Inside, and joined Olsson backing The Grateful Dead's Bob Weir on his solo album Heaven Help the Fool in 1978. Other artists he worked with during the 1970s and early 1980s include Yvonne Elliman, England Dan & John Ford Coley, Shaun Cassidy, Allan Clarke, Bernie Taupin, Kiki Dee, Stefanie Gaines, Barbi Benton, and Jimmy Webb.

Murray and Olsson returned to tour and play sessions with John, starting with 21 at 33 in 1980. He and Olsson backed John during his landmark concert in New York City's Central Park before more than 400,000 fans on the Great Lawn on 13 September 1980, and appeared on The Fox in 1981. Murray went on to contribute all the bass tracks on Jump Up! in 1982 and joined Olsson and guitarist Davey Johnstone for the Jump Up! Tour, followed by albums and tours for Too Low for Zero (1983) and Breaking Hearts (1984). The group then disbanded, reuniting once more to record backing vocals on Reg Strikes Back in 1988.

In the 1980s, Murray played on numerous Nashville sessions for artists such as Michael Brown, Lewis Storey, Beth Nielsen Chapman, and John Prine, amongst others.


Battling skin cancer for a number of years, Murray died in 1992 at the age of 45, in Nashville, Tennessee, after suffering a stroke.[1] According to Murray's obituary,[5] that March, John performed two tribute concerts at the Grand Ole Opry to raise money to support Murray's family. In a 2011 interview, Olsson, who in 2004 rejoined John as a full-time band member to record Peachtree Road, reflected upon the absence of his longtime bandmate: "I think about him every single day. Brilliant bass player. Wonderful guy. Dear, dear, dear friend. A musical genius across the board."[4]

Davey Johnstone believes Murray's musical skills were not fully appreciated, and in March 2011, said he was working on a documentary about Murray.[6]


With Elton John

With Beth Nielsen Chapman

With Jimmy Webb

With John Prine

With Yvonne Elliman

  • Night Flight (RSO Records, 1978)

With Ronnie Hawkins

  • The Hawk (United Artists Records, 1979)

With Shaun Cassidy

With Bernie Taupin

With Brian Cadd

With England Dan & John Ford Coley


  1. ^ a b c d Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1992 – 1993". Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  2. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books Ltd. p. 189. CN 5585.
  3. ^ Classic Albums: Elton John – Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (2001) at IMDb Edit this at Wikidata
  4. ^ a b "Exclusive interview: Nigel Olsson - my career with Elton John". 11 April 2011.
  5. ^ "Obituary : Dee Murray". 15 January 1992. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  6. ^ Joe Bosso (4 April 2011). "Exclusive interview: Davey Johnstone – my career with Elton John | Guitar News". MusicRadar. Retrieved 24 July 2014.

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