Don Bowman passed away on Wednesday, June 5, 2013. He was 75. Don Bowman often opened for Willie Nelson & Family from late ’70’s until the early ’90’s, when he chose to stay in Branson after Willie Nelson & Family’s long run there. Thanks to Lyn Vyles and Budrock for sharing information and pictures about Don.
Willie wrote the liner notes for one of Don’ Bowman’s albums:
“One thing I like about Don Bowman is that he makes me laugh even when I don’t feel like it. He has always affected me this way. When he was a disc jockey in Lubbock, Texas, he broke up the whole city with this weather forecast, “Fair and warmer and his orchestra”, his Station Break, “This is K something or other serving the Portland-Vancouver area” — remember, he’s still in Lubbock, Texas. I could just see his boss Herman Mullet, driving down a west Texas highway, late for a sales meeting in Odessa, hearing this on his car radio, coming to a screeching halt in the middle of the road, beating his head against the dashboard and screaming, “Where did I go wrong?”
Don Bowman is a funny, funny man — and in this album you will find many opportunities to break up, double over, or split your sides. For instance, “What Kind of Fool Am I” is a very beautiful song that has been butchered by one of the world’s funniest butchers — my funny friend Don Bowman. How Come It Is, She thinks I Don’t Care — well, you pick one, play it, listen, or as Don would say, “List-ten” — and try not to laugh. I guarantee you can’t do it. ”
— Willie Nelson
The talents on Don Bowman are varied. He is a singer and guitarist, a monologist of subtle humor, a song writer and a budding film performer. He has also been a successful disc jockey. Don, who was born in Lorenzo, Texas, was doing turntable duty at a San Diego Radio Station in 1960 when he sent some of his song paradies to RCA Victor’s head man in Nashville, Chet Akins, with the request that he submit the material to Homer & Jethro. Chet did — and Don became a regular contributor to the duo’s albums. Several years later, acting upon Atkins’ advice, Don quit a $20,000 a year broadcasting job in Minneapolis and came to Nashville to be near the writing and recording activity. It was a wise move. In 1963 Bowman was recording his own material in the RCA Victor studio — Chit Atkins, Make Me a Star. Atkins really did, and today Don is a favorite recording artist and Opry laugh-getter. When Don isn’t touring with state shows, he lives in the penthouse of a high-rise apartment building in Nashville and concentrates on songwriting.
Goodbye to an Old Friend
By Joshua Clark
Goodbye to an old friend
As I was driving into work Thursday morning, I heard that country music songwriter and comedian Don Bowman had passed away Wednesday morning at a nursing home in Forsyth. He was 75.
He was one of the funniest men of country music, and counted legends like Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson as his closest friends. He had careers as a D.J., singer, songwriter and comedian.
Bowman recorded eight albums with his biggest single, “Chet Atkins, Make Me A Star,” spending four months on the country charts in 1964, peaking at No. 7 on the Cash Box charts. Other singles include “For Loving You” with Skeeter Davis, “Folsom Prison Blues 2,” and “Poor Old Ugly Gladys Jones” with Jennings, Nelson and Bobby Bare.
He also spent time opening for Jennings, Roger Miller, Merle Haggard, Bare and Bill Anderson. In addition, he spent 17 years on the road opening for Nelson before deciding to stay in Branson.
Bowman had his biggest professional success as a comedian. Throughout his career, he has appeared on the big screen, the small screen, onstage and on record. He received the inaugural award as Comedian of the Year from the Country Music Association, getting the nod over fellow comedians Ben Colder and Homer & Jethro in 1967.
After moving to Branson in the early 1990s, he portrayed “Seemore Miles” for the Moe Bandy Show. As a songwriter, Bowman may be best known for co-writing one of the biggest hits in the career of Jennings, “Just To Satisfy You.” The song hit No. 1 twice, once for Jennings in 1969, and once for Jennings and Nelson in the early 1980s. He also took the old Mother Maybelle Carter tune “The Wildwood Weed” and updated it in the 1960s.
I first met Bowman in 1995 when he was performing with Bandy. He was already a family friend, and that friendship was extended to me. I’d take Bowman to the movies, or to a show, or have a cold adult beverage from time to time, and always had a blast. In 2007, a group of friends and I took Bowman to see Willie Nelson in Joplin. He was treated like royalty by the band and the crew, and I got a story that I still tell to this day. It was without a doubt one of the greatest nights of my life.
Bowman suffered a stroke a few years ago and lost his ability to speak. Even though he had difficulty communicating, he never lost that outlaw twinkle in his eye.
Bowman will be remembered for his warped sense of humor and touching song lyrics. He will be missed. Goodbye old friend…