James Calvin Wilsey, guitarist on Wicked Game, has reportedly passed away

He was best known for playing lead guitar on Chris Isaak’s hit.

James wilsey and chris isaak

Chris Isaak (left) sharing a light-hearted moment with James Wilsey in a 1991 show in London. Image: Martyn Goodacre / Getty Images

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We’ve heard unconfirmed reports that James Calvin Wilsey, Chris Isaak’s former backing guitarist, has passed away. He was 61.

The news has surfaced on several guitar forums and on social media, with fans and former bandmates offering their tributes to Wilsey. Although he’s best known for that iconic Spaghetti Western-inspired lead guitar on Isaak’s Wicked Game, Wilsey had starred in the crooner’s backing band – called Silvertone – from 1980 all the way up to 1993. His first claim to fame, however, was as the bassist of Californian punk group the Avengers; he joined way back, in 1977.

Wilsey’s last record with Isaak was for the latter’s 1993 album San Francisco Days. He kept a relatively low profile thereafter, only releasing a single solo album, El Dorado, in 2008. Just one other track would follow: an instrumental cover of Johnny Cash’s The Man Comes Around, which came in 2012 as part of the soundtrack for the Brad Pitt-starring flick, Killing Them Softly.

We will update this story as we learn more. For now, we’ll leave you with Wilsey’s most famous – and haunting – work. Rest in peace, Jimmy.

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