Alabama Singer-Songwriter Chris Porter Dies in a Highway Accident

The Alabama musical community is still in shock while mourning the loss of Americana singer-songwriter Chris Porter, who died in a highway accident late last month at the age of 36.

Born and raised in Pell City, Porter was best known for his work with his most recent musical group, Chris Porter and the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes. He also was a founding member of past groups including the Back Row Baptists and Some Dark Holler.

Porter and his bandmates were en route from Charleston, SC, to Baltimore, MD, for a gig when their tour bus was struck by an 18-wheeler on Interstate 95 in North Carolina. Another bandmate, Mitchell Vandenburg, was also killed, and a third, Adam Nurre, was hospitalized after the incident.

“We were looking through the wreckage,” said Chris’ mother, Nancy Porter. “This was the most horrendous wreck I’ve ever seen. The frame is all that’s there.”

Porter is remembered fondly by his past collaborators, including Sarah Green, who sang with him in the Birmingham-based group Back Row Baptists.

“He was huge personality wise,” Green said. “He was smiling all the time, so generous and kind. He was wild. He had that wild spirit, you could hear that in his songs.”

Porter moved from Pell City to Birmingham in 2002 before eventually relocating to Austin, Texas, about two years ago. Throughout that time, friends and family members say, he did whatever he could to support his passion of making music.

“He would do whatever job he could so he could write and perform,” Green said. “He was just all the way, all the time. That was what his life was about.” While about two in five musicians and singers are self-employed, Porter helped to make ends meet by working at music stores and outdoors stores in and around Birmingham before moving to Austin.

“He was a good man and a best friend,” said Porter’s former girlfriend Bonnie Whitmore, who also served as a musical collaborator through several of his projects. “He was the funniest guy I knew. He told the best stories; you knew there was truth in them, but how much was always a toss-up. He wrote some of the saddest songs ever. He was one of the most generous and genuine people I’ve ever known.”

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