About The Artist
Bobby Lord is a native of Sanford, Florida, which was known then as the "celery center of the world". He was a singer, songwriter, and guitarist and television star. He had his own long-running syndicated television show in the 1960s, produced by WSM in Nashville.
His musical career began as teenager in Tampa, FL. There, he had his own television show in Tampa while still in high schoolThe Bobby Lord Homefolks Show. He got this show when he was asked to be a guest on a local show, so he did this for two weeks. Then he got a call from the program director and was asked to take over the show - he was told at the time that the star of the show had suddenly 'taken ill' and wouldn't be able to host the show anymore. They asked Bobby if he could get a show together by the next night. He managed to find a pickup band for the show. Since he had no backup band of his own, he had to call around and find musicians, which he did - he found an accordion player, a couple of guitar players for the then 30-minute show. They then gave him an hour show for Saturday nights. They reported that he did up to 27 numbers in that one hour's time!
His first big break was an appearance on Paul Whiteman's TV show in New York as the result of winning an amateur talent contest. In 1953, the legendary songwriter, Boudleaux Bryant had a tape Bobby had cut in Nashville and had it played for Don Law at Columbia records, who then signed Bobby with Columbia Records. He recorded several "Rockabilly" hits (many of which have been re-released several times), as well as several country chart records for Columbia. At the same time, he became a regular on The Ozark Jubilee (an ABC television show hosted by Red Foley based out of Springfield, Missouri), where he stayed for five and a half years.
When The Ozark Jubilee went off the air in 1960, that meant Bobby could make the move to Nashville. Bobby joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1960, where he was a featured performer (i.e., hosting multiple segments each night he was in attendance) through the 1960s into the mid-1970s.
In 1961 he began recording for the Hickory label. In 1967, he moved to the Decca label, where had several additional top 10 and 20 country hits.
He was perhaps best known for The Bobby Lord Show, a nationally syndicated TV show produced at WSM in Nashville. In a 1967 article, Bobby noted proudly that his syndicated show was being seen in 40 markets in the USA and in 34 countries around the world. In May of either 1966 or 1967, he made his first European tour, another career highlight and he got a great reception by the audiences as they were familiar with his show.
The syndicated show featured The Jerry Byrd Band, which included:
All three were among the finest musicians Nashville had to offer and each of them played on countless hit records recorded in Nashville studios. If you went to an Opry performance during the 60ís into the 70ís, these guys were the Opry "house" band that backed up everybody who didnít bring or have their own band, which many performers on the Opry did not.
Bobby also had a late afternoon LIVE country TV show on WSM during this same time frame. That show began as a popular daily afternoon show on Channel 4 on September 9, 1963. That show was the idea of Elmer Ally, Brad Crandall and Bayron Binkley and others who wanted an afternoon show that featured country music. The concept had been tried before, but not succeeded, even with different artists each week. This time they tried it with an emcee, a regular band and to have guests. Jerry Byrd and the band also did the live show, which was one hour.
While video of the syndicated shows is still available, it's too bad there are no tapes of those daily WSM shows that Bobby hosted, because lots of interesting stuff happened. The first time Mel Tillis ever spoke on TV was on this show when they had time to fill at the end and Bobby asked Mel to tell a funny story he had told off the air. It was funny, but the switch board at WSM lit up with angry callers about how Bobby had embarrassed Mel. But as we know, Mel went on to great things in his singing and songwriting career and fans came to understand the stuttering that became part of his act.
In the early '70s he grew tired of the road, and wanted to spend more time with his family. He semi-retired from music, returned to his home state of Florida, and developed very successful real estate and insurance businesses. However, he wasn't through with show business.
Bobby was well known as an avid outdoorsman, camper, fisherman, hunter, etc. and had a reputation as an excellent interviewer from his TV shows. With that background, TNN asked him to host one of it's original shows, Country Sportsman, which was later called Celebrity Outdoors after ABC got a little upset about the show's original name name being too similar to its show, American Sportsman. The show had a very long and successful run and Bobby got paid to travel the world, fish, and visit with old friends.
After several years, he retired from the show in 1989 because he was about to have two new grandchildren within a month of each other, and he wanted to be home to enjoy them. The show continued on for another season with another host, but the ratings were not what they once were when Bobby hosted the show and was subsequently cancelled.
A practicing Christian, Bobby wrote a book entitled Hit The Glory Road, published in 1969 by Broadman Press (Library of Congress Catalog Card Number 73-83309). It's an interesting book on the grassroots gospel behind country music. It includes interviews with Roy Acuff, Bill Anderson, Bobby Bare, Jim Ed Brown, songwriters Boudleaux and Felice Bryant, Skeeter Davis, Ralph Emery, Jeanie C. Riley and Tex Ritter among others.
He currently lives in Jensen Beach, Florida, with Mozelle, his wife of over 40 years, and near all three of his children and seven grandchildren. He has a house on a lake in central Florida, where he regularly host many of his old buddies for bass fishing trips (Bobby Bare, Jerry Reed, Mel Tillis, and Jimmy Dickens are all "regulars" at the lake house).
Credits & Sources
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