W.S. 'Fluke' Holland, Drummer for Johnny Cash, Dead at 85

W.S. "Fluke" Holland, who worked as a drummer for Johnny Cash, has died at the age of 85. According to his obituary, Holland died on Wednesday, Sept. 23 at his home in Jackson, Tennessee, following a short illness. Holland was born in 1935 in Saltillo, Tennessee, and joined the Carl Perkins Brothers Band in 1954.

He toured with that group until 1960 when he joined Cash as a member of The Tennessee Three and later The Great Eighties Eight and The Johnny Cash Show Band, touring with Cash as the country star's drummer and road manager until Cash retired in 1997. Holland, who Cash nicknamed "Father of the Drums," remained active with his own band through 2019. Before he began playing with Cash, Holland played drums on the 1955 Sun Records recording of "Blue Suede Shoes" and performed on the "Million Dollar Quartet" session featuring Cash, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

(Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum)

"I started playing drums in 1954," Holland told the Tennessean. "One night Carl, out of the clear blue sky, said, 'We've got an appointment with [Sun Records owner and producer] Sam Phillips Thursday at Sun Records for a record audition. Borrow some drums and go with me.'" Holland revealed that he considered retiring from music in 1960 after his success with Perkins, but Cash called him and asked him to play with his band.

"He didn't have a drummer in the band, and he wanted me to go on a two-week trip," Holland recalled. "I went for that two-week period, and it lasted almost 40 years."

In 2014, Holland was honored at the Carl Perkins Center in Jackson for his sixty years of musical contributions, and in 2016, he was inducted into the Radio Nostalgi Hall of Fame in Sweden. In 2018, he was honored with the "Lifetime Achievement" award during the annual Tennessee Music Awards event at the University of Memphis Lambuth in Jackson.


He is survived by his wife of 60 years, Joyce Lindsey Holland, his daughters Kim Holland Lovelace and Krista Holland, grandchildren Lindsey Griffith and husband Kevin of Nashville, Ben Holland Lovelace and fiancé Sarah Grace Scott, and great-grandchildren Madelyn Elaine Griffith and Michael Griffith.

A visitation with friends and loved ones will be held on Saturday, Sept. 26 and the funeral service will follow at West Jackson Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee. Masks will be worn during both events and social distancing will be practiced. Instead of flowers, the family asks that memorials be directed to West Jackson Baptist Church Hartland Ministry or YouthTown of Tennessee.