Jessie Thomas Bishop

Published 11:05 am Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Jessie Thomas “Tommy” Bishop passed Saturday, Nov. 5, 2011, after a lengthy illness. He was a resident of Covenant Health and Rehab. He was 79 years old. He passed peacefully with family members at his side. He was preceded in death by his parents, the Rev. Mr. and Mrs. Grady C. Bishop, longtime residents of Vicksburg. He will be lovingly missed.

Mr. Bishop was born Sept. 12, 1932, in Memphis, Tenn., and had been a resident of Vicksburg since 1945. He was a very gifted and talented musician. His first guitar was bought for $5 at the age of 10 from an old bluesman in Aberdeen, Miss. He learned much from playing in church. He started his first band, Tommy and the Southerners, at age 15. At 17, he won an audition playing in Red Sovine’s band on the Louisiana Hayride in Shreveport, La., and played professionally throughout the 1950s as a sought-after session and touring guitarist. He was the lead guitarist and vocalist for The Carlisles featuring Bill Carlisle. He was the last lead guitarist for Hank Williams Sr. Mr. Bishop also played on the Grand Ole Opry with such greats as Jim Reeves, Ray Price, Chet Atkins, Marty Robbins, Faron Young, Little Jimmy Dickens, Webb Pierce, Ernest Tubb and many more. He served with the Vicksburg Police Department and owned Bishop Bonding Co. in Vicksburg before retiring in 2005. He also was very active in numerous children’s charities in the community.

Mr. Bishop is survived by his wife, Pasty J. (Abney) Bishop of 39 years. His siblings are Virginia Bishop Amico of Buffalo, N.Y.; Billy Wayne Bishop of Vicksburg; Barbara Bishop Traylor of Hernando, Miss. Brother Sonny James Bishop preceded him in death. Mr. Bishop had four children: Clifton Cleveland Bishop of El Cerrito, Calif.; Gerald Wayne Bishop Sr. of Vicksburg; Sharon Rose Bishop of Jackson and Jesse Thomas (Tom) Bishop Jr. of Jonesboro, Ark. He had nine grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

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Visitation will be at Frank J. Fisher Funeral Home, 1830 Cherry St., Vicksburg on Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 10 until 11:30 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 11:30.

Please send donations in lieu of flowers to the Alzheimer’s Association.