Joseph Scudder Zinkan was perhaps the more important bass player in country music during until his retirement from music in 1980 after a four-decade career. Born in Indianapolis, Indiana, on Dec. 16, 1918, he first recorded with the Delmore Brothers for Bluebird Records in September 1938 in Rock Hill, South Carolina. He performed with Pee Wee King’s Golden West Cowboys playing a rube called “Cowboy Joe.
After joining Roy Acuff’s Smoky Mountain Boys in 1943, he played “Pap” while Lonnie Wilson served during World War II in the U.S. Navy. Zinkan’s Pap had chin whiskers and a rube costume. When Wilson returned to his character, Zinkan took off the whiskers and  continued with his country getup playing the stand-up bass. Any time Wilson was absent, Zinkan stepped back into the role, and a substitute bass player was hired.
He also played a character that never smiled called “Smilin’ Joe.” During the 1940s and  “50s Zinkan joined Jimmie Riddle in duets for “Shot Gun Boogie,” Thirty Days” and “Chiquita Banana.” His skills can be heard on Acuff’s 1947 recording of “Wabash Cannonball” and numerous other recordings, including “Great Speckle Bird.”
Zinkan’s last year with Acuff’s band was 1957. Acuff’s biographer Elizabeth Schlappi said  band members recalled Zinkan as being very reliable with a dry humor and quiet nature.
The bassist had become a regular band member on the Grand Ole Opry in the 1940s  and continued there for more than 25 years. He also toured with Johnnie and Jack and Kitty Wells before becoming primarily a studio musician in 1959.
Zinkan was known for his 4/4 country shuffle, upright slap-bass technique. The slap style of bass playing involves ‘slapping’ the strings with the right thumb and “popping” with the right hand  fingers, giving a percussive characteristic to a note’s sound.
Much in demand, he played bass on recordings for such stars as Cowboy Copas, Elvis Presley, Leon Russell, Flatt & Scruggs, Jimmy Martin, Bill Monroe, Mac Wiseman, Kitty Wells, Skeets McDonald, Marty Robbins, Ray Price, Lefty Frizzell, Ronnie Milsap, Merle Haggard and Tammy Wynette, Jim & Jesse, Billy Walker, Ray Price, Slim Whitman, Dottie West, Hank Snow, Bobby Bare, Charley Pride, Red Sovine, Jean Shepard, Tom T. Hall, Jerry Lee Lewis, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash and Jimmy Martin.
According to The Encyclopedia of Country Music , Zinkan sometimes played rhythm guitar and sang harmony when needed Zinkan was a tremendous influence over many bass players who came after him. Among those were Lightning Chance, Billy Linneman, Dennis Crouch, Mike Bub and Bob Moore, who called Zinkan the “best slap bass player I have ever heard.”
He retired from music in 1980 and underwent heart surgery in 1990 Zinkan married Lois M. Thompson on Nov. 17, 1938, in Wake County, N.C. They remained married until Jan. 15, 2003, when he died of congestive heart failure. They are buried in adjoining plots in Sumner Memorial Gardens in Gallatin, Tennessee.