Blackhearts, Kenny Chesney Mourn Guitar Tech Zak Godwin II, Killed By A Hit & Run Saturday

Zak Pic
Zak Godwin II doing what he does best: rocking! Godwin was killed in a hit and run accident in Nashville over the weekend. Photo by Jill Trunnell

Zak Godwin II, with the naughty smile and Anthrax-evoking goatee, was so much more than a wicked good guitar tech. Most recently employed by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts on their stadium-sized tour and beyond, he was a longtime member of Kenny Chesney’s touring family, as well as a veteran of Vince Gill and Hank Williams III’s road team.

Crossing Nashville’s Charlotte Avenue at 50th on foot Saturday, Dec. 10, he was struck and killed at 5:40 pm. The hit and run driver is currently being sought, but remains at large.

He leaves behind his wife Julie and many music business friends, who are all in shock.

Chesney tour co-ordinator Jill Trunnell wrote in an email to their extended road family, “I am not even sure how long Zak has been in and out of our world. He has toured with us, filled in and performed entire shows on stage with KC (goatee shaved asap-ha), worked with Support Acts, filled in on almost every backline position at some point — especially this year – I think he did the first 5-6 weeks in a row this year, helping us out when people were sick. Which is exactly what Zak always did.

“He was there for anyone and everyone! All you had to do was ask him, and even when you didn’t, he made sure to check in! I am sure that there are a lot of people right now who will say “Zak was one of my Best friends,” as he made everyone feel important and special to him. Zak was the most kind, caring, and considerate soul with a quirky sense of humor like no other.

“Now I look back as it being a blessing this year that we were so fortunate to get to have him out on so many shows with us filling in and get as much time as we had with him.”

Zak Godwin
Zak Godwin II (far right) joins Kenny Chesney and guest Joe Walsh (center) on stage. Photo by Jill Trunnell

The 57-year old musician and adventurer was known for his trips to Peru, seeking to explore the ruins, understand a different culture and have mind-opening experiences. His 2000 recording Flexar is available on Spotify and other listening platforms; moody, guitarcentric, it showcased his dexterity on both electric and acoustic guitar.
Moundbuilder, inspired by his trips to South America, was released on vinyl, as well as CDs and downloads, in 2018. As he shared on the Tim Bain Show, “When I came back, I’m a musician and had been making records for many years. But I was thinking to myself, this isn’t like anything I’d wanted to do before. I just wanted to make a record where it didn’t even have lyrics, it was just animal sounds and flutes, sounds of the earth… I just realized that everything is sacred all around us and there’s all kinds of magic everywhere. You don’t have to go to Peru; it’s right here in Tennessee… I had to go to Peru to realize what was in Tennessee.”