Moe Bandy Biography

Marion Bandy, 12 February 1944, Meridian, Mississippi, USA. Bandy was nicknamed Moe by his father when a child in the home town of the legendary Jimmie Rodgers, so it is perhaps not surprising that he grew up to be a country singer. He later stated: ‘My grandfather worked on the railroads with Jimmie Rodgers. He was the boss of the railway yard in Meridian and Jimmie Rodgers worked for him. He said that he played his guitar all the time between work.’ The Bandy family moved to San Antonio, Texas, when Moe was six years old and he was educated there, graduating in 1962. His mother played piano and sang; Bandy was taught to play the guitar by his father but made little use of the ability until he was in his teens. His father’s wish that he also play the fiddle never quite materialized. He made some appearances with his father’s country band, the Mission City Playboys, but generally during his high school days, he showed little interest in music but a great deal in rodeos. He tried bronco busting and bull-riding and by the time he was 16, he was competing in rodeos all over Texas. In 1962, tired of the bruises and fractured bones, he began to pursue a career in country music. He assembled a band that he called Moe And The Mavericks and found work playing small beer parlours, honky tonks and clubs over a wide area around San Antonio, Texas. When he was young he tried to sound like Hank Williams and George Jones - ‘I even had my hair cut short like his’. Although work was plentiful, the pay was poor and during the day he worked for his father as a sheet metal worker. This was to last for the next 12 years, during which time he made a few recordings for various small labels. In 1964, he had his first single, ‘Lonely Lady’, on the Satin label, but it made little impression. He did manage to get his band a residency on a local television programme calledCountry Corner and in this capacity, he provided backing for several touring stars.

In 1973, Bandy went solo when record producer Ray Baker, who had listened to Bandy’s demos the previous year, suggested he come to Nashville. Bandy managed to obtain a loan and recorded a song called ‘I Just Started Hatin’ Cheatin’ Songs Today’. Initially released on Footprint Records with a limited pressing of 500 copies, it soon came to the attention of the Atlanta-based GRC label. In March 1974, it entered the US country charts, eventually peaking at number 17. Other hits followed, including ‘It Was Always So Easy To Find An Unhappy Woman (Till I Started Looking For Mine)’ and ‘Don’t Anyone Make Love At Home Anymore’. In 1975, a song written by his friend Lefty Frizzell and Whitey Shaffer gave him a number 7 country hit, firmly establishing his reputation. ‘Bandy The Rodeo Clown’ was to become not only one of his own favourites but also one of his most popular recordings. (Shaffer was greatly amused by the way Bandy pronounced woman as ‘wah-man’ and began to send him songs with ‘wah-man’ in them.) Bandy sang in a simple style that extracted the utmost from his songs of lost love, sadness and life. Although by no means a Hank Williams sound-alike, he showed a very distinct influence in his method of putting across his honky tonk songs.

Bandy met with immediate success at Columbia Records with Paul Craft’s ‘Hank Williams, You Wrote My Life’ and quickly added further hits, including ‘Here I Am Drunk Again’. Between 1977 and 1979, he was a country chart regular with singles such as ‘I’m Sorry For You, My Friend’ (the song Williams had written for their mutual friend Lefty Frizzell), ‘Cowboys Ain’t Supposed To Cry’, ‘That’s What Makes The Jukebox Play’ and a duet with Janie Fricke, ‘It’s A Cheating Situation’. In 1979, he achieved his first solo number 1 with ‘I Cheated Me Right Out Of You’. Also during 1979, as a result of touring together in Europe, Bandy joined forces with Joe Stampley and a single release of ‘Just Good Ol’ Boys’ became a number 1 country hit, leading to a continuation of the partnership over the following years. It was not too surprising that they proved a successful double act. Between 1979 and 1985, their further hits included ‘Holding The Bag’, ‘Tell Ole I Ain’t Here’ and ‘Hey Joe (Hey Moe)’. In 1984, they ran into copyright problems with their parody of pop singer Boy George called ‘Where’s The Dress’, when they used the introduction of Culture Club’s hit ‘Karma Chameleon’. Referring to the matter later, Bandy said, ‘He didn’t appreciate what we’d done and naturally he sued us. We paid him money, but I didn’t like the way he spent it.’ In addition to their single successes, Moe and Joe recorded several albums together. During the 80s, Bandy maintained a steady line of solo successes including ‘Yesterday Once More’, ‘Rodeo Romeo’, ‘She’s Not Really Cheatin’ (She’s Just Gettin’ Even)’ and ‘Till I’m Too Old To Die Young’. He also registered duet successes with Judy Bailey (‘Following The Feeling’) and Becky Hobbs (‘Let’s Get Over Them Together’).

Over the years Bandy maintained a touring schedule estimated to average between 250 and 300 days a year and he also made numerous network television shows. In later years he cut back considerably on his schedules. He was never a regular Grand Ole Opry member but has made guest appearances from time to time. Bandy summed up his music when he said, ‘I really think my songs are about life. There’s cheating, drinking and divorcing going on everywhere and that’s what hardcore country music is all about.’ He added: ‘If I’d done all the things I sing about, I’d be dead.’ Critics reviewing some of his later recordings wrote that it was strange that, at a time when more artists were actually recording his type of music, some of his recordings were spoiled by string and/or choir arrangements, and advised that an immediate return to his roots was necessary. Bandy opened his popular Americana Theatre in Branson, Missouri in 1991.


Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.


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