C&I talks with Moe Bandy, one of America’s all-time leading classic country artists, about his recently released autobiography, Lucky Me, available now.
With an all-star country music career, hits like “Bandy the Rodeo Clown” and “Just Good Ol’ Boys,” a longtime friendship with a former president, and a love of rodeo, it’s not surprising that classic country artist Moe Bandy has some great stories to tell. As luck would have it — and not just for the 73-year-old Bandy— fans can read those stories and get an inside look at the legend’s life with the release of his autobiography, Lucky Me, available now.
In this up-close-and-personal autobiography, Bandy, with the help of co-writer Scott England, explores the good times and the bad, from his birth in Mississippi to his semi-retirement in Branson, Missouri. Some high points include performing alongside Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle during President George W. Bush’s campaign; some of his low points, his battle with alcoholism. There are great stories of friendship, most notably with President George Bush, First Lady Barbara Bush, former duo partner Joe Stampley, and family.
It’s an entertaining and heartwarming read — full of insights into decades of country music and the cheating and drinking songs that would become his signature.
Recently, we talked with Bandy about his autobiography, why he chose to write one, and his undying love of rodeo.
Cowboys & Indians: First, I just want to congratulate you on your new book Lucky Me, which came out on January 26.
Moe Bandy: That’s right. We’re excited about it. I’ve been telling these stories for years and everybody kept saying, “You need to write a book.” So I did, with Scott England, and I’m really glad that I did it.
C&I: What kind of experience and inspiration are you offering your readers by telling those stories?
Bandy: One thing that I’m very proud about the book is Barbara Bush wrote the foreword for me. I’m very close friends with the Bushes, and I’ve told a lot of stories about how I came to Nashville in the ’60s, recording and [getting] to do shows and everything with my heroes — the people that I admired. I got to tell stories about being on the Grand Ole Opry for the first time and all that. Then I campaigned with the Bushes. I talked about the campaign, being with Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle, and I’ve just had so many experiences over the years, and I wanted to share it with people.
C&I: With so many years in the business and with so many accomplishments in your career — including 10 No. 1 hits, 40 Top 10 hits, and numerous Academy of Country Music Awards and Country Music Awards — what made you want to release your autobiography now?
Bandy: Well, I didn’t want it to be the final deal I did; I’ve got a lot more to do. But I wanted to release it because we’d been doing shows and everything, and I wanted to share the experiences that I’ve had with the fans. And while I’m still out on the road doing all of this, I wanted to write it and share it with the fans. It’s been quite an experience. Scott England, who is the co-writer, and I sat on my back porch for hours and hours talking, and that’s the way we wrote the book. It’s been a really good experience.
C&I: In the book you delve into many, many topics. One of them is your battle with alcoholism. Was it difficult to step outside of yourself in such a way and expose your struggles?
Bandy: It wasn’t difficult for me because I did it years ago. It was 33 years ago I quit drinking, and I wanted to talk about it because it helps so many people. I wanted to show people that you can have a lot of success without drinking and partying and all that. You can have fun in your life without all that. I think people get the impression, especially if you’re an entertainer, that you’ve got to go out and drink with everybody, which I did. But you can also do it all sober, too.
C&I: You were talking about your friendship with President George Bush and First Lady Barbara Bush and the foreword written by the former First Lady. Would you share one of those stories?
Bandy: Well, I have many. I spent the night in the White House twice, and I just had so many experiences with the Bushes. When we campaigned we had so much fun. I would go out and sing Americana and then I would introduce the president, which was just a thrill. Then Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle came out and joined us, and we just had so much fun. We felt like we were on a winning campaign, which we were, and it was just so much fun, and we were ahead in the polls. It was just a thrill to do that.
C&I: So what did they think when you said that you were going to be writing this book?
Bandy: Well, we contacted Ms. Barbara Bush, and she was excited about it. She said she’d love to write the foreword, which was really clever, the things she put in there, and they’re excited about it. They like the book and I’m just proud that I had an experience around them.
C&I: Speaking of fun stories, you also wrote about things that have happened backstage with duo partner Joe Stampley — and also your love of rodeo. ...
Bandy: Yeah, Joe and I did the crazy songs — you know, “The Good Ol’ Boys” and all those songs. We had so many people. We did a tour from the East Coast all the way out to the West Coast. We ended the tour in San Francisco and played jokes. Joe and I woke up one morning about 5 a.m. The band was asleep on the buses. We were driving and Joe and I got in a race. He drove his bus; I drove mine. And we got in a race, and I beat him, by the way. But we played practical jokes on each other. We were at a place and a guy brought a big boa constrictor snake. I put it in Joe’s bus, and he like to have died. We did all kinds of things like that. We had fun, and, of course, touring myself with my band, we did all kinds of stuff.
C&I: You got to work with Loretta Lynn and Crystal Gayle. What was that like?
Bandy: That was great, and they brought their sister Peggy Sue, and it was really neat because I was very close friends with them anyway. I just loved doing the touring and everything with them before and during the campaign. It was just so much fun. Loretta Lynn is so funny. You just don’t know what she’s going to say. She says just what’s on her mind, and that is the way she is and I love that. I really like that.
C&I: What part of your autobiography came the most naturally for you to talk about?
Bandy: One of the things that I’m proud of in the book is my love for rodeo. I love the sport of rodeo. My grandfather rodeoed and my dad, and I was involved in it. Then my brother Mike Bandy went to the National Finals seven times for bull riding. I got the opportunity to play all these rodeos. When I did “Bandy the Rodeo Clown,” I think I played every rodeo in the world. My brother rode bulls at the same time, so we played a lot of rodeos where I’d do the singing and he’d ride bulls. Several times he won the bull riding, so that was quite a unique deal there. ...
I’ve owned a couple of bucking bulls for the PBR, and they have been so good to me, and I’m really excited about my involvement there. Also, the PRCA has done good for me, too; they’ve been really good. So I love my rodeo cowboys and cowgirls, and I’m proud that we talked about [that in the] book.
C&I: So part are you most excited for fans to see?
Bandy: Well, I want them to see the experiences I had traveling all over the world. ... I did a lot of European tours. I wanted the fans to hear some of these stories. We stayed in a castle over in Scotland and had a big time. Just different stories like that.
C&I: Having told your life story, is there a P.S. you’d like to share?
Bandy: Well, one of the reasons that I wrote the book ... is I wanted my family to know of what I’ve done, and I wrote it for my grandkids’ grandkids. I think it’s unfortunate that everybody can’t write a book because you don’t know all about your relatives, whether they’re in the entertainment business or not, and I wanted to pass that down. I am just tickled to death that people are liking all these stories and everything. The book is doing very well and I just really appreciate that.
For more information on Moe Bandy and to order Lucky Me, visit his website.