Jelly Roll has been an unstoppable force in country music over the last year. And while it has been a joy for his mother to watch his rise to fame, his father never had the opportunity to see just how high he would fly.
Unfortunately, Jelly Roll’s dad, Horace “Buddy” DeFord, died on March 20, 2019 after a battle with cancer. He was 75 years old. The mark he left on Jelly Roll, however, is something that will live on forever.
“Today my best friend of 34 years took his last breath,” Jelly Roll — real name Jason DeFord — wrote on Facebook at the time of his dad’s passing. “My father, Buddy DeFord taught me how to wake up, get dressed and go to work. No matter how you feel, you get up get dressed and get your ass to work.”
“He taught me how to carry myself as a man, how to shake a mans hand and look him in he eyes,” he continued in the lengthy tribute. “He taught me how to TREAT people — how to interact with people. How to talk with confidence. Because of you Pops I’m the man that I am.”
The bond the “Son of Sinner” singer shared with his father led to an eerie experience just one week after his death. In a video posted in 2019, Jelly Roll is seen walking the halls of an abandoned hospice facility in Kansas City. He said he had been looking for a sign from his dad, and he found it — on a literal sign outside one of the rooms.
“My father’s real name was on one of the rooms. My dad was called Buddy since he was a baby, but his government name was Horace,” Jelly explained in the caption.
“I’ve been alive over 30 years and never once seen his name or met another person named Horace my whole life. I couldn’t believe this when it happened — sometimes signs are subtle, but so encouraging,” he added.
Details about Buddy’s life are few and far between on the internet, but a simple Google search reveals that the star’s dad was a meat salesman outside of Nashville, in Antioch, where Jelly Roll was raised. He also worked as a bookie on the side.
Buddy’s obituary reveals he was born on Oct. 20, 1943. He is survived by his younger brother, Buford DeFord. Buddy had four children, including Jelly Roll, seven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
Jelly Roll’s 2023 single “Save Me” was inspired by his father’s death, coupled with the heaviness of the pandemic. He originally released the song in 2020, but re-released it as a duet with Lainey Wilson, which became a hit.
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Gallery Credit: Billy Dukes
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Jelly Roll and his wife, Bunnie Xo, never shy away from public displays of affection. The pair have shared numerous photos together sneaking kisses or engaged in deep belly laughs. Jelly Roll and Bunnie Xo married in 2016 and are closer than ever today.