Beloved musician, artist Duff Dorrough dies
by Chance Wright
Oct 04, 2012 | 9998 views | 0 0 comments | 38 38 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Duff Dorrough, 60, local musician and artist, died at North Sunflower Medical Center in Ruleville Wednesday morning after a long fight with cancer and liver disease.

"I always said, you know, painting is my day job and playing music is my night job. It's not always that simple," Dorrough said in the documentary film, "Drawing on a Dream," made in September 2011 by Susan Dobbs and David Rae Morris as a production of Barefoot Workshops in Clarksdale.

Visitation will be held from 1-2 p.m. on Saturday, October 6, 2012, at Ruleville United Methodist Church.

Funeral services will follow at 2 p.m. Saturday at the church with Rev. Mary Hutson officiating. Burial will be in at Marlow Cemetery in Ruleville.

Over the years Dorrough entertained thousands of people at local and regional festivals and events.

Dorrough was probably best known for being the lead guitarist for the Tangents and the Yalobushwackers, the house band for the popular radio show Thacker Mountain Radio heard every week for the past 15 years on Mississippi Public Radio.

Considered a mentor by many, Dorrough influenced such bands as Widespread Panic, the Kudzu Kings and Blue Mountain.

"All those folks revered Duff Dorrough," said Jim Dees, an editor at Oxford's Jefferson Press and host of The Thacker Mountain Radio Show. "Duff didn't have to work at making people love him and his music. He just naturally brought people into his orbit."

Tricia Walker, director of the Delta Music Institute at Delta State University, agreed that Dorrough's style was unique and difficult to forget.

"He was the band leader for the house band for Thacker Mountain Radio Show. The band is the Yalobushwhackers, the show that broadcasts from the Delta Music Institute once a year and Duff was instrumental in making that a successful event," said Walker.

"Not only was he a unique and wonderful musician, he was an exceptional painter so to lose such a talented artist leaves a big hole in the Delta, which he loved so much," she added.

Born in Memphis on May 20, 1952, to Dr. Charles and Delores Marlow Dorrough, Duff was raised in Ruleville and graduated from high school in 1970 before attending Delta State University where he studied art.

A heartfelt desire to play rock-n-roll music came calling and Dorrough left DSU to move to Nashville, Tenn., where he stayed until 1975 when his grandparents became ill and he made the decision to move back home.

Later in life, friends said the death of his wife, Deborah Peacock Dorrough, caused Duff to take a step back and re-evaluate the meaning of the life he was living.

In the 1990s Duff returned to Delta State once again, this time to study art under renowned professor Sammy Britt.

Under the tutelage of Britt, Dorrough's visual art once again began to flourish and his use of colors, including pastels, brought his Delta landscapes to life.

"I hold him in high regard as an artist," famed Mississippi artist Gerald DeLoach once said. "He's a great pastel artist and has a fantastic sense of color. He paints from nature and is interested in beauty. Duff's artwork has the same subtlety that his music does. He strives for harmony and perfection."

Duff loved his family, his friends and the Mississippi Delta and it was later in life that he met special friend, Nannette Long.

"My mother said Duff 'taught me how to love, how to live, and how to die,'" said Kattie Long Doty of her mother.

"Duff always made time to stop and talk to anyone and everyone with a his kind words and a contagious smile. He will be missed, not only by his friends, but also by artist and musicians, gardeners and all of us who have a Duff story. I don't know of anyone that can speak his name without a smile on their face," said Jo Donna Watson, long-time friend of over 30 years.

"I lost a brother. He was like a brother to me," said Willie Free, an early schoolmate and another life long friend.

Duff was the father John Charles Marlow Dorrough and Audra Lee Dorrough, both of Ruleville.

In lieu of flowers the family requests that donations be made to The Duff Dorrough Benefit Fund at Planters Bank, P.O. Box 9, Ruleville, MS, 38771.