Billy Ray Reynolds, 79, died November 29, 2019, at his home in Mt. Olive, Mississippi. Visitation will be at Colonial Chapel Funeral Home in Mt. Olive on Friday evening, December 6th, from 5-8pm, followed by services at Calvary Baptist Church of Mt. Olive on Saturday, December 7th, beginning with a 1:00 pm visitation, followed by funeral services beginning at 2:00 pm at the church. Burial will be at the church cemetery immediately following the service.
He was born October 6, 1940, to Joseph Bernice Tew and Annie Ruth Ingram Tew Allen, both of whom preceded him in death. He was also preceded in death by a son, Mike Reynolds. He is survived by his wife, Lora Reynolds, two brothers, Bobby Reynolds, and J. B. Tew, five sons, Damon Reynolds, Carson McHale, Brian Reynolds, Jesse Reynolds, and Cleburne Reynolds, along with seven grandchildren, and many close relatives, all of whom he loved dearly. He also leaves behind his beloved pets, "Mac" and "Peaches."
Billy Ray was a world renowned singer, songwriter, musician, producer, composer, arranger, actor, writer, and historian, whose credits in the music and entertainment industry are eclipsed only by his humility and thankfulness for having lived a life which had its origins in such humble beginnings, and yet took him to so many places in the world, and which gave him such a rare opportunity to share with the world his immense talent as a creative artist.
Perhaps best known for his early years as rhythm guitarist for Waylon Jennings, and playing session guitar and singing harmony on some of the most iconic records Waylon ever produced, Billy Ray's true love was as an award winning songwriter, with songs recorded by recording artists that included Waylon, as well as Johnny Cash, Tanya Tucker, John Conlee, Toby Keith, Tompall Glaser, Eddy Arnold, Tom Jones, Jake Owen, Conway Twitty, Bobby Bare, Dickey Betts, and many other top artists that spanned over three decades in Nashville. He also played guitar and was vocalist for the legendary steel guitarist, Pete Drake, and for many years was signed to Drake's publishing company, Window Music, which he helped manage. But perhaps his proudest accomplishment in music was in helping others achieve their dreams by forging so many professional relationships and friendships among those in the music industry.
His versatility as an actor landed him multiple roles in the televison and the film industry, and he served several years as the President of the Screen Actors Guild for Tennessee and Kentucky. His last movie role was in the screen adaptation of William Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying" which was released in 2013. In 2006, after having moved back to his beloved hometown, he met the love of his life, Lora Reynolds, at the Frank Brown Songwriters Festival near her home in Pensacola.
They soon married, and began a collaboration that allowed them to write and produce their original country and spiritual songs to audiences from Nashville to Key West, and along the way, provide true meaning to their duet album's title cut, "Country Music Love Affair."
Special thanks to the medical staff at West Hattiesburg Dialysis Center, for the loving care provided him. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made to the National Kidney Foundation, or to the church or charity of choice.