Wes Freed, the Richmond-based artist and musician whose work has graced almost all of Drive-By Truckers' album covers, died on Sunday, September 4. Freed had been diagnosed with colorectal cancer back in January, and a GoFundMe had been launched to cover medical expenses. He was 58.

Drive-By Truckers' Patterson Hood paid tribute to Wes, writing, "25 years ago today I met one of my best friends in the whole world. Actually way beyond that. Wes Freed and his late wife Jyl invited Drive-By Truckers to play their Capital City Barn Dance. We stayed at their haunted house outside of Richmond, and the rest is history. And so much more. Today we’re all grieving. I hope to write more about it when I can breathe again. Wes is flying with the Cooleybirds. We’ll love you forever."

Wes created the long-necked, black-feathered bird, dubbed the "Cooleybird," that first appeared on Drive-By Truckers' 2003 album Decoration Day and became synonymous with the band.

Former DBT member Jason Isbell paid tribute to Wes at his show in Charlottesville, VA on Sunday, dedicating "Decoration Day" to him. “He was one of the first people I met on the road on tour with the Drive-By Truckers, many many years ago, more than 20 years ago," Isbell told the crowd. "I slept on his couch with his dog. I loved him. He was a great man and a great artist and he painted the covers of all the Drive-By Truckers records. This is a song for him.” Watch that below.

In addition to his artwork, Freed also played in bands Mudd Helmet and Dirtball. Rest in peace, Wes.

drive by truckers decoration day

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