Richie Albright, who manned the drum kit for Waylon Jennings since the Sixties and was essential to the Outlaw country trailblazer's signature rock-based sound, died suddenly Tuesday in Nashville. He was 81. A rep for Shooter Jennings, with whom Albright toured up until 2017, confirmed Albright's death to Rolling Stone.

An Oklahoma native, Albright joined Jennings' backing band the Waylors in 1964 in Arizona, and the group developed a fan base at the Tempe nightspot J.D.'s. Jennings' first album, in fact, was named after the club, Waylon Jennings At J.D.'s (Albright is credited as "Richard Albright"). The two men developed a strong bond and Jennings relied on Albright as both a musical guide and confidant. It was Albright — whom Jennings once referred to as "my right hand" — who added a four-on-the-floor rock beat to Jennings' country-rock guitar, adding another component to the oft-imitated Outlaw country sound in the process.

"His style of guitar playing was definitely different," Albright told Michael Streissguth of those early J.D.'s gigs for the author's 2013 book Outlaw: Waylon, Willie, Kris and the Renegades of Nashville. "We did Dylan songs. We did Beatles songs. We did all genres of music. Did a lot of country stuff. It was kind of a castoff of Buddy Holly's rhythm. It wasn't country really."