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Gates had been recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He played steel guitar for the band, which scored major hits in the 1990s with "Queen of Memphis," "Trashy Women" and others. According to his daughter, Brittney Humes, Gates had retired from Confederate Railroad in 2008 to devote more time to church and family. "He was an all-around musician," said Confederate Railroad lead singer Danny Shirley. "And he played with us for 17 years."