Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Just List-Ten Here!

Category:  Obituary

The world is a little less funny now.  Don Bowman has passed away.  Bowman died June 5th in a nursing home near Branson, Missouri.  He had been confined to a nursing facility since a stroke in 2008.

Rubel Don Bowman was born August 26, 1937 in Lubbock, Texas.  His first success as a songwriter came courtesy of two men who would come to invoke his name frequently:  Homer and Jethro.  Their 1962 album Homer and Jethro at the Convention featured Bowman's song "Ellie Mae."  (Later in the 1960's Homer and Jethro would spoof Bowman with songs "Dear Don Bowman" [a parody of one of Bowman's songs, "Dear Harlan Howard"] and "Owed to Don Bowman.")

In 1964 Bowman scored his own recording success.  His creaky voice talked its way through "Chit Akins, Make Me a Star" (with the word star pronounced more like store), a Bowman comical composition that pleaded with the head A&R man at RCA to "just list-ten here" to Bowman's atrocious guitar playing (which, according to Atkins during an interview on WSM in the mid-90s, was played by saxophonist Boots Randolph) and put him on the road to stardom.  It worked.  Bowman released a string of successful albums on RCA and continued to write comical ("Freda on the Freeway," from Bowman's Funny Way to Make an Album record, was also recorded by Homer and Jethro, and in return Jethro provided the liner notes for the Bowman LP) and serious ("Anita, You're Dreaming" and "Just to Satisfy You," co-written with and hits for his friend Waylon Jennings) material.  Bowman was named the CMA's first "comedian of the year" during the short lifespan of that category (it was discontinued in 1971).  During this time Bowman was also featured as the comedian on Bill Anderson's syndicated television series (and Anderson was victimized by Bowman in Bowman's album Whispering Country, consisting of parodies of Anderson's songs).

Bowman's best-known comedic success came ten years after he wrote it:  "Wildwood Weed."  Although Bowman recorded the song on Our Man in Trouble in 1964, it took Jim Stafford's cover in 1974 to make the song a success.

After the comedic success waned Bowman turned to radio.  He became the first host of American Country Countdown, country radio's answer to Casey Kasem's pop program.  He also worked as a disc jockey in Texas and Missouri.

Don Bowman was 75.

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