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Ben Dorcy (1925 – 2017), country music’s original roadie

by Legacy Staff

Ben Dorcy, legendary country music roadie, died Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, according to a post on Willie Nelson’s Facebook page. He was 92.

“Anything you say about Ben — as wild as it was — you don’t have to make up, because it actually happened,” country singer Johnny Bush told the crew of the documentary “Lovey: King of the Roadies.”

The subject of that documentary was Ben Dorcy III, whose death at the age of 92, was announced Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, on Willie Nelson’s Facebook page.


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Dorcy basically invented the job of roadie. When he started touring with musicians in 1950, he was simply called the bandboy. He would set up equipment, keep wardrobes in order, make late-night food runs, and acquire whatever else the musicians needed to keep the show on the road.

These weren’t just any musicians, they were all-time greats like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Frank Sinatra, and Patsy Cline. Before he became the original roadie, he was John Wayne’s valet in Hollywood. He was a legend among legends, and inspired songs like Waylon Jennings’ “Ode to Ben Dorcy,” and Red Sovine’s “Big Ben Dorcy the Third.”

Although he slowed down, he continued to go out on tour into his final years. His longevity spoke not just his abilities as a roadie, but to his personality — one that earned him the affectionate nickname “Lovey.”

He was a dear friend of Willie Nelson, whose daughter, Amy Nelson, and grand-nephew, Trevor Doyle Nelson, produced the feature-length documentary, “Lovey: King of the Roadies” (2017).

“He has no living relatives, yet he is the patriarch of a family of artists, and fellow roadies who love him dearly,” Amy Nelson told Rolling Stone in 2015.

In 2009 Dorcy became the first member inducted into the Roadie Hall of Fame.

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