Sunday, September 25

Larry Petree cause of death: US musician and wife found dead near California City

A beloved musician and his wife have been found dead on a desert road in a bizarre tragedy, leaving family members wondering what happened.

The bodies of Larry Petree and his wife, Betty, were found on Sunday afternoon on a dirt road just east of California City.

The two had reportedly been married for more than 60 years, the US Sun reports.

“When deputies arrived, they found the bodies of an adult male sitting in the driver’s seat and adult female leaning against the rear tire,” the Kern County Sheriff’s Office said.

Investigators added that it appeared that the couple may have run out of petrol.

Criminal activity is not suspected in the case, so homicide detectives didn‘t respond to the scene.

An official cause of death has not yet been revealed.

It is also unclear where the couple may have been headed.

Larry was born in Oklahoma in 1933 but moved to Bakersfield in 1942 at the age of nine.

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He worked at the fire department for 30 years because he wanted to stay at home with Betty rather than travel with a band.

Larry was known for his musical talents and played the pedal steel guitar, contributing to the Bakersfield Sound era.

He was playing shows in the area up until his passing.

Larry‘s final show was with a band called The Soda Crackers.

“We had the honour of having Larry as our steel guitarist at our first ever show in Bakersfield and had the even greater honour of playing with him for his last show a few weeks ago,” the band wrote in a Facebook post on Monday.

“We send our condolences to the Petree family and the greater Bakersfield Sound community.”

The Petrees were well-respected around Kern County.

But some members of the Petree family have questions about what happened to the couple.

“At this moment, I’m not sure exactly what happened,” Laurie Sanders, Larry’s cousin, told The Californian on Tuesday.

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Sanders said that Larry got lost while driving to a recent gig.

She claims that Larry became disoriented and failed to show up.

Family friend Kim Hays reiterated that claim, saying that she recently had to find Larry and bring him to a show.

“He always had a smile on his face,“ Hays told KTLA.

“He was just a sweetheart of a guy and he was always there to help other people.

“I just can’t believe they’re gone and in such a bizarre fashion.”

Still, Sanders wonders what the couple had been doing on that dirt road.

“They don’t travel that far away from home,” she said.

“To say I’m devastated … is an understatement,” Carol Donnelly told The Californian.

She worked at Trout’s Nightclub where Larry used to perform.

Mario Carboni, a country music singer and songwriter, also paid tribute to Larry.

“Everyone who is a musician in Bakersfield knows who Larry Petree was,” Carboni told the outlet.

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“Everyone loves him. He was an asset to any group he was in.”

Another musician, Jennifer Keel, echoed that sentiment.

“This has really caught me by surprise,” Keel said.

“You never expect such a tragedy. Larry always had a smile and a kind word.

“He was a very well-respected musician, steel player, in the Bakersfield country music family.”

“He just loved playing music,” she said, adding that ”even though he played with several bands through the years, he was always available to fill in anytime you needed him.”

Zane Adamo, fiddle player of The Soda Crackers, shared his condolences as well.

“His smile is something I’ll never forget,“ Adamo told KTLA.

“When he smiled he had these big cheeks. And there’s no way you couldn’t smile when you saw Larry smiling.

“And just the nicest guy ever. And he had such good wisdom, and I remember talking to him and just listening to every word he said.”