My Kind of Country

Country music from a fan's point of view since 2008

February Spotlight Artist: Moe Bandy

Marion “Moe” Bandy was born in Meridian, Mississippi, in 1944, and moved to San Antonio, Texas, at the age of six. His grandfather had known and worked with country pioneer Jimmie Rodgers on the Mississippi railways, while both Moe’s parents were musical, and his father had a part time country band. As a teenager, Moe’s main interest was rodeo riding, until he was 18 and had endured one broken bone too many, when he turned seriously to music. His brother Mike continued to ride competitively.

He had a day job in a sheet metal factory (working for his dad) while playing small local venues with his band, and getting some work on local TV. However, he did not make a real breakthrough until 1973, when Ray Baker, a music publisher and aspiring record producer, who had been impressed by demo recordings, encouraged him to move to Nashville. Moe’s musical partnership with Baker kickstarted both their careers, as Baker would go on to work with Connie Smith, Merle Haggard and a young George Strait.

Moe issued an independent single, ‘I Just Started Hating Cheating Songs Today’ on the Footprint label, and songs about drinking and cheating became something of a signature theme for him. His contract was then picked up by a slightly larger independent label, GRC, who released three albums and a number of hit singles. Country legend Lefty Frizzell was another to be impressed by the singer, and write a song especially for him (‘Bandy The Rodeo Clown’).

This success gave Moe a springboard to greater things, and he signed to Columbia Records in 1976. He enjoyed a string of hit singles, although perhaps surprisingly only one went all the way to #1. From 1979 he also had a side project as a largely comic duo with labelmate Joe Stampley. He also had individual duet hits with Janie Fricke and the underrated Becky Hobbs.
In the 1980s Moe’s hardcore traditional style relaxed a little. Declining sales saw Columbia drop him in 1985 after nine years on the label, and a shortlived deal with MCA saw him chart again but failed to revive his career significantly. A couple of albums on Curb were the end of his commercial streak, but he was one of the artists to see the appeal of his own permanent show at Branson, Missouri.

In recent years he has been touring with Gene Watson, and he has just released an autobiography, Lucky Me.
We hope you enjoy our coverage of Moe Bandy’s music this month.

One response to “February Spotlight Artist: Moe Bandy

  1. Ken February 1, 2018 at 1:01 pm

    Great choice for a spotlight artist.

    Loved Moe’s music right from the start. I enjoy most styles of mid-20th century country music but traditional country / honky-tonk has always topped my list. Country hits in the early 1970’s covered a broad spectrum of styles but traditional country had become less popular with producers and record labels that desired bigger sales with crossover records. The heavily orchestrated “Nashville Sound” gradually became the dominant style for most of mainstream country music. So when I heard “I Just Stated Hatin’ Cheatin’ Songs Today” it was like a breath of fresh air. It was similar to how I felt when I initially heard Ricky Skaggs & George Strait a decade later.

    Moe’s road to success took more than a decade. Hope briefly touched upon his journey in her summary. Moe’s first single with his band “The Mavericks” was released in 1965. (That group was not connected to The Mavericks that scored several country hits in the 1990’s) Moe and his band released two singles for the Satin label then another two on Brazos Records. Those recordings and several more were compiled on a 1967 album “Moe Bandy And The Mavericks” released on the Crazy Cajun label and later on Footprint. Those singles and that LP quickly faded into obscurity but some of those tracks were resurrected for CD releases issued more than two decades later.

    Two Moe Bandy singles for the Gee Pee label circa 1970 also failed to gain traction. Moe’s next two singles were released for the Shannon label in 1972. Shannon Records was started in the early 1960’s by Jim Reeves to launch new acts. After his death in 1964 it went dormant but was reactivated in 1971 by Reeves’ widow Mary who ran Jim Reeves Enterprises. The Shannon singles also proved unsuccessful but established Moe’s relationship with Ray Baker who produced those four sides. In 1973 Moe personally bankrolled a demo session produced by Baker that created the “I Just Started Hatin’ Cheatin’ Songs Today” single that Hope referenced above.

    Like too many country acts from that era very little of Moe’s Columbia catalog has been reissued on CD or downloads. The best compilation of his original hits to date was issued in 1996 on the Razor & Tie CD “Honky Tonk Amnesia – The Hard Country Sound Of Moe Bandy” [RE 2096-2] That collection includes his early GRC singles and most of his significant Columbia hits. His 1980’s hits for MCA/Curb and Curb are on the 1990 set “Greatest Hits” [Curb D2-77259]
    Moe has re-recorded many of those sides and they are available on several compilations for various labels. Even though Moe was in good voice and in most cases the re-recordings were well done they just aren’t as strong as the originals.

    Pickin’s are really slim for digital releases of Moe’s original albums. Moe’s first two GRC albums were released in 2002 on a Westside/Demon “two-fer” CD in the U.K. Now out-of-print it sells for obscene prices on the used market. Same story for Moe’s first and fifth Columbia albums “Hank Williams You Wrote My Life” and “Cowboys Ain’t Supposed To Cry” that were reissued as a 2003 “two-fer” by Audium/Koch in the U.S.. More recently his album “It’s A Cheating Situation” [1979] & “She’s Not Really Cheatin’”[1982] were coupled on a 2013 Morello two-fer released in the U.K. Moe’s Columbia duets with Joe Stampley have been issued via several CD compilations. One of them features their first two duet LP’s..

    A word of warning that some of Moe’s albums are now offered for downloads from dubious companies. Some are available via Amazon. However most are sourced from vinyl records and the audio quality varies so buyer beware.

    Looking forward to revisiting Moe’s classic recordings this month.

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