The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #55475 Message #861975
Posted By: Banjer
08-Jan-03 - 05:27 PM
Thread Name: Obit: Banjo Player Buzz Busby
Subject: Obit: Banjo Player Buzz Busby
I found this on the newsgroup a while ago.
Buzz's bands included notable Banjo pickers Eddie Adcock, Don Stover
and Bill Emerson. His band members eventually started the very
successful Bluegrass group "The Country Gentlemen.
By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 8, 2003
Buzz Busby, 69, an acclaimed bluegrass mandolinist, songwriter and
bandleader who helped Washington develop a reputation as a bluegrass
center in the 1950s and spent a lifetime wrestling with an addiction
to alcohol and drugs, died of cardiac arrest Jan. 5 at the Forest
Haven nursing home in Catonsville, Md.
Mr. Busby also had Parkinson's disease and diabetes, and was largely
sidelined from his career since undergoing a quintuple bypass
operation in 1990.
Mr. Busby, who led the Bayou Boys band in the 1950s, was considered a
local bluegrass pioneer and specialized in the "high lonesome" sound
popularized by Bill Monroe -- a traditional, fast-paced music with
which Mr. Busby found favor on television and area clubs.
"They were the band that got bluegrass started in Washington," said
Tom Mindte, 45, a bluegrass mandolinist who leads the group the
Patuxent Partners. "He made Washington a bluegrass hub because of his
The Bayou Boys appeared regularly on "The Hayloft Hoedown," an evening
program on WRC-TV, and also on "Louisiana Hayride," aired from
Shreveport, La. The band performed often at such places as the Pine
Tavern in Washington.
A car accident in 1957, in which the ambulance driver mistakenly
pronounced him dead, left him hospitalized for weeks. In the meantime,
members of the Bayou Boys wanted to keep their engagements and formed
what became the core of the Country Gentlemen, one of the legendary
proponents of "newgrass," or modern bluegrass.
After recuperating, Mr. Busby turned to songwriting. He wrote such
bluegrass standards as "Cold and Windy Night," "Lost," "This World's
No Place to Live, But It's Home," "Lonesome Wind" and "Blue Vietnam
Among his most famous was "Just Me and the Jukebox," which includes
"Just me and the jukebox to pass the time away,
Just me and the jukebox, who knows the price I paid.
A glass of wine to ease my mind since we've been apart,
Just me and the jukebox, who knows my broken heart."
Jerry Garcia and the Johnson Mountain Boys were among those who
recorded his songs.
About 1960, Mr. Busby began his descent into alcohol and drug abuse.
His marriage unraveled. He spent time in jail.
"He would try hard" to overcome his additions, "and he'd experience
recidivism," said his brother Wayne Busbice, a guitarist and singer.
"He couldn't keep a group together after that."
Mr. Busby continued to perform and received new notice when Wayne
Busbice started a record company that issued new recordings with his
Mike Joyce, reviewing the release "Louisiana Grass" for The Washington
Post in 1986, wrote: "As always, it's Buzz's tremolo-humming mandolin
style that stands out most, but the singing is heartfelt, the playing
surefooted and the songs almost always worth hearing again."
Mr. Busby was born Bernarr Graham Busbice and was one of nine siblings
to grow up on a farm in Eros, La. He learned guitar and mandolin from
his brother Wayne.
A high school valedictorian, Mr. Busby was recruited by the FBI in the
early 1950s. He did fingerprinting work at the agency while attending
George Washington University.
He was so successful musically that he gave up the FBI and college to
devote himself to music.
He worked in a duo called Buzz & Jack with songwriter and guitarist
Jack Clement, who became a major record producer in Nashville.
Then came the Bayou Boys. Among those who performed in the group was
banjoist Don Stover, guitarist Charlie Waller, singer and guitarist
Pete Pike, bassist Lee Cole, banjoists Bill Emerson and Eddie Adcock,
and fiddler John Hall.
After the car accident, the Country Gentlemen formed with Waller,
Emerson, mandolinist John Duffey and bassist Tom Gray.
Mr. Busby's marriage to Patricia Padgett Busby ended in divorce.
Besides his brother Wayne of Wesley Chapel, Fla., survivors include
two sons, Timothy Busbice of Westlake Village, Calif., and Glenn
Busbice of Huntington Beach, Calif.; another brother; two sisters; and