Fiddle player Hoot Hester played backup for a number of country music recording artists, among them Alabama, Hank Williams, Jr., Conway Twitty, Randy Travis, Bill Monroe, and Ricky Van Shelton. He also recorded with Manhattan Transfer and Ray Charles. Hester was best known, however, as a member of the Grand Old Opry's staff band, as well as the fiddler for a Nashville-based Western swing outfit called the Time Jumpers.
The musician's real name is Hubert Dwane Hester. He was born on a Kentucky farm and at the age of two he acquired the name Hoot. The nickname is derived from Hoot Gibson, a popular cowboy actor. As a child, Hester developed a love of music from his guitar and fiddle-playing father and four uncles, as well as from his mother's piano playing. He first learned how to play the piano, and by the time he was nine he had picked up the fiddle as well. It wasn't long before he also developed skill on the guitar and mandolin. He and a couple of cousins formed a band to play bluegrass music.
Upon leaving high school, Hester found employment with the phone company while also performing with a Louisville group called the Bluegrass Alliance. Hester relocated to Nashville in 1973, where he started performing with the Whites. He moved on to gigs with artists such as Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis, and Donna Fargo. By 1980, he decided to work as a studio musician and soon he was also playing with steel guitar player Buddy Emmons and session guitarist Phil Baugh in Sound Factory. They went on to become the staff band on the television shows That Nashville Music and Nashville Alive. In the late '90s Hester helped found the acclaimed Nashville-based Western swing band the Time Jumpers. He remained with the band until his death from cancer in August 2016.