By Mary Allyce
The voting membership of the Bandera Music History Project Hall of Fame has never elected a Living Legend quite like Ben Dorcy – but then there is no one quite like Ben Dorcy.
How many people can claim the first induction into the Roadie Hall of Fame during Nashville’s 2009 “Roadie Palooza,” or have an annual day in their name at Floore’s Country Store? How many have an “Ode” written to them by Waylon Jennings? How many can boast a lifetime spanning a stint in the United States Navy, time with the Ice Capades and a turn with Hollywood’s Nudie Cohn, the man who put rhinestones on rhinestone cowboys like Porter Waggoner?
Dorcy’s also featured in Kinky Friedman’s – BMHoF Living Legend 2009 – “Roadkill” novel and forged friendships and working relationships with the likes of John Wayne, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson.
Access to virtually any tour bus, known by virtually every musician in the business, a fixture at every venue in Bandera for decades, Ben Dorcy is the definition of unique and he’s spent most of his life in service to the music industry and musicians.
Ben H. Dorcy III was born on May 19, 1925 in Dallas and grew up in San Antonio where he attended Jefferson High School. He joined the Ice Capades in 1940, touring the United States and Europe for three years. In 1943 he enlisted in the US Navy, completing his service in 1946 and then it was back to the entertainment business.
Dorcy worked for John Wayne as a gardener and chauffeur and played a Tennessee volunteer in Wayne’s “The Alamo,” adding film to his resume. Always drawn to the music business, he found his way to Nashville in 1950 where he hooked up with country swing legend, Hank Thompson. He was with Ray Price when he met Willie Nelson in 1961. “He’s still a roadie,” Nelson said. “He’s a hard worker.”
BMHoF 2013 Living Legend, Walter “Tooter” Ripps talks of a gig where it started to rain. “Ben jumped up,” Tooter recalled, “and started unplugging and helping. I never saw anybody move so fast!”
Almost everyone who knows him has at least one “Ben Dorcy story.” There was the birthday party, meticulously planned for him. Everyone showed up except Ben. “I kept that cake in the trunk of my car until I finally caught up with him,” the hostess said. “Of course, by then it was mostly mold, but darned if he didn’t take it anyway and thanked me! I was so mad and he actually seemed pleased!”
As for Dorcy himself, in an Internet interview he offered, “The most amazing thing that ever happened to me was one time in Las Vegas when Ann Margaret asked me to dance!”
At 3 pm, Sunday, Nov. 9, join Ben at The Farm off FM 2828 as he accepts the 2014 BMHoF Living Legend award. There’ll be plenty of the music that’s defined Ben’s life.