Ben Dorcy is still working today at age 91, which makes him the oldest living roadie and by many accounts the first roadie ever. He currently works with Willie Nelson, Brooks & Dunn, Cody Canada (Cross Canadian Ragweed), Randy Rogers, Wade Bowen among others.
Kinky Friedman said that the way you can tell if a musician is any good is if he has worked with Ben Dorcy. He has worked with several of the greats in country music such as Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, and Patsy Cline. You name ‘em, he has worked with ‘em.
He has been a part of over sixty years of music and film history. From being John Wayne’s valet to driving Johnny Cash across the country, Ben has been there for it all. He was friends with Jack Palance. He was John Wayne’s personal valet for years. He has danced with Ann Margaret. He began working in the music business as a “band boy,” a term that was used to describe stagehands. In 1950, when Hank Thompson invited Ben to join him on the road. Ben became the world’s first traveling stagehand, the first “roadie.”
Ben H. Dorcy III was born on May 19, 1925 in Dallas, Texas. He grew up in San Antonio and attended Jefferson High School. Ben first ventured into the entertainment industry in 1940 skating in the Ice Capades, featuring choreographed performances on ice. With the Ice Capades Ben traveled throughout the United States and Europe from 1940 to 1943. In 1943, Ben enlisted in the Navy where he served his country for three years, completing his service in 1946 as a seaman. He was soon to return to the world of entertainment.
From 1950 through 1953 Ben met and began working for Hank Thompson. Shortly thereafter he was introduced to Willie Nelson. Ben met Willie at John T. Floore’s Country Store. In addition to Willie and Hank Thompson, Ben also worked on and off with Ray Price. When Ben worked with Ray Price as a roadie, Willie Nelson was the bass player, and they became good friends.
While traveling, Ben fell in love with California and moved to Hollywood. He took a job as a delivery boy for Nudie Rodeo Taylor, the man who “Set Rhinestones in Fashion History.” It was at this time (1962-1965) that Ben met John Wayne. Wayne took a liking to Ben, whom he met at Nudie’s shop and hired him first as a gardener, and later as his chauffeur. Although Ben loved working for Wayne, he longed to return to the music business.
Ben moved to Nashville. While in Nashville, Ben reunited with Hank Thompson, Willie Nelson, and Ray Price. During this time Ben met Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, and Kris Kristofferson working for each of these musicians. Eventually, Willie Nelson’s solo career took off he took Ben with him.
Ben has a gypsy soul and a heart has big as Texas, hence his nickname, ‘Lovey.’ Ultimately, he returned to central Texas and became immersed in country music with acts that included Merle Haggard, Jerry Jeff Walker and David Allan Coe.
Now as he turns 90, Ben still makes the rounds. Few people in the music industry will ever have the impact Ben continues to have. He has a heart of gold, a passion for the music, a strong work ethic, and the desire to persevere, all of which drive him to keep on keeping on. Ben is truly living history and an inspiration to those of us who want to learn what he so freely offers.