The celebrated impresario Colonel Buster
Doss is a name highly respected as one of the leading independent
record producers and the force behind the Stardust International
Records label, Nashville. Born B. Marvin Earl Doss, 4 February
1925, Jefferson, Texas, USA., he was nicknamed Buster by
his elder brother Benny. At the age of thirteen, Buster
ran away to join a touring Old Time Medicine Show, where
he soon began to learn about the music and entertainment
business from the same people who trained Gene Autry, Bob
Wills and Roy Acuff. He also learned conjuring and ventriloquism
and in 1942 enlisted in the United States Navy where he
started to produce shows to entertain the Armed Forces during
World War II.After discharge in 1945, he moved to Hollywood
and appeared in b-Westerns as both Bronco Buck Cody and
The Cactus Kid.
Between 1946 and 1948, he did radio broadcasts from
KLRA in Little Rock, Arkansas and KTFS in Texarkana, Texas
and recorded for Royalty and Star Talent. In 1948 Buster
became a member of the Louisiana Hayride, where he worked
with several major stars including Hank Williams and Johnny
Horton; he also appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. In 1950,
Buster Doss managed his first radio station at Hugo, Oklahoma
but later owned seven other stations. From the mid-50s to
the early 60s, he owned and operated country music's largest
phone promotion unit with over two hundred employees promoting
the Grand Ol Opry, the Louisiana Hayride shows, Cody's Helldrivers
Thrill Shows and Marvin the Marvellous Magician.
Forming Wizard Records during 1959 in Waco, Texas, Buster
Doss relocated to Nashville and was the first major independent
record label to establish itself on Music Row in the 1960's.
Buster Doss was also one of the founding fathers of the
Outlaw movement, which is greatly associated with Willie
Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser.
Long before the likes of Alabama, Restless Heart, and The
Mavericks, the Colonel formed a band out of Austin, Texas
in 1976 called Cooder Browne who led the way for other bands
to walk. The Colonel signed them to Willie Nelson's Lone
Star and Mercury record labels and secured for them the
job of opening Willie's Fourth Of July Picnic in 1979.
One of the Colonel's artistes is Rooster Quantrell who
released an excellent album of western swing on the Stardust
Nashville label, featuring Buddy Emmons on pedal steel,
plus Larry Franklin and Hoot Hester on fiddles, and Rooster
playing piano and trumpet. 20 tracks…all written and arranged
by Colonel Doss, which can often be heard on Sky Music Choice
(digital) in the UK. I believe that Rooster Quantrell is
the highly talented musician Donald Bradley, who plays trumpet,
piano, guitar and bass and is the piano player in Mark Chesnutt's
I contacted Colonel Buster Doss and asked him about
How did you start out in the entertainment business?
"To completely understand me... I came
from a musical family and was playing shows and all string
instruments by the time I was six years old. When I joined
a medicine show at thirteen, I learned to be an actor, magician,
comedian, ventriloquist, Master of Ceremonies, etc... so
when I went into the Navy, I joined the Air Corp and started
putting on shows during boot camp. A lot of the time I was
the main performer since I did so many acts. After boot
camp, I was put in Special Services because I knew
a lot of the country acts. I brought them to bases in the
USA and overseas."
Tell me about your time with the Louisiana Hayride.
"At the time that it started in 1948 I had a western
swing band called, "Buster Doss and the Arkansas Playboys".
We went down to the Hayride about once a month and performed.
The last show that the Louisiana Hayride did at the Municipal
Auditorium in Shreveport was in 1960, and I was on and off
of the show for the entire twelve years."
At one time you had management association with Billy
Walker and Billy Grammer. Can you tell me a little about
"In 1962,1 built the second largest tent circus in
America called "Bronco Buck Cody's Circus and Wild West
Show". I hired Billy Grammar as my concert feature on the
circus and he talked me into coming to Nashville and manage
him when it closed in 1963. Not too long after, Billy Walker
recorded one of my songs and asked me to manage him. I also
handled Sky King, who was eleven years on the CBS Network."
How and when did you first come to know Willie Nelson?
"In the 60's, my booking agency booked
fairs and concert appearances for the Louisiana Hayride
acts, and a young Willie Nelson was a guitar picker on the
Hayride. I formed the Cooder Browne band in 1976 and got
them working with Willie. I also got them on Mercury Records
and managed them for three years, but I left because I didn't
like the dope scene. The only one of the Cooder Browne band
I've kept up with, is the fiddle player Larry Franklin,
who went from them to the Asleep At The Wheel band, and
is now one of the hottest session players in Nashville,
working not only on my Stardust releases, but on the albums
of Shania Twain, Alan Jackson, Reba McIntyre, Mark Chesnutt,
You were also involved with Tracy Lawrence's early career.
How did that come about?
"Tracy Lawrence came to one of my theatre's in Ashdown,
Arkansas when he was about sixteen years old and stayed
until he moved to Nashville."
Bluegrass artiste Rhonda Vincent is another performer
whose early career you were involved with.
"Rhonda Vincent and her family called the "Sally Mountain
Gang" worked for me on my Frontier Jamborees in Missouri
and Texas for 5 years"
You established the career of Rooster Quantrell, a western
swing artiste on your Stardust label. Why did you decide
on the idea and did the name have anything to do with Quantrell's
Raiders from the American Civil War history.
"The Rooster Quantrell idea came about because I have
always been a fan of John Wayne, and one night I was watching
television and saw him when he played a character played
"Rooster", and then later that same night he was in a movie
called, Quantrell's Raiders."
You have written over 500 songs...Rooster Quantrell
and Pap and The Sidemen are just two of the artistes who
have more recently recorded your songs, but there has also
been several big name artistes who picked up on your songs,
who were they?
"I've had songs recorded by Billy Walker, Billy Grammar,
Eddie Arnold, Bob Wills, just to name a few."
You have mentioned your Frontier Jamborees, when did
you start them?
"I built my first country music theatre in 1970
in Marceline Missouri, where Rhonda Vincent got her start,
The second in Harlingen, Texas in 1974, the third in Georgetown
Texas in 1976, The fourth in Ashdown Arkansas in 1982 where
Tracy Lawerence and Rooster Quantrell got their start, the
fifth in Mt. Pleasant Texas in 1985, The sixth in Athens
Texas in 1986 and the seventh in Winchester Tennessee in
What happened with the Frontier Jamboree Theatres and
"When I turned sixty-five, I sold all of the theatre's
and moved to the farm where I still live and turned my concentration
on Stardust Records."
Can I ask how you came by the title of Colonel?
"In the '60s, I did shows for the police and I was made
a Colonel in the public relations division of the Police
organisation. 11 States have bestowed the honour of Colonel
on me including Bill Clinton when he was Governor of Arkansas
and made me a Colonel on his staff."
Just to finish, I believe that you have received many
awards for your work in country music and as a magician,
how many have you received?
"I have over a 1000 awards in my offices including
Hall Of Fame from the CMAA, LSSMA, ICMA, TCMA, etc. Magician
of the Year, Knights of the Golden Wand. PLUS: Producer
of the Year, Promoter of the Year. Songwriter of the Year
and on and on !!"
Colonel Buster Doss passed away at the
age of 81, August 2006.