The Story and Music of Country Music Star Bobby Bare


Introduction to Bobby Bare

Bobby Bare (born Robert Joseph Bare) was born on April 7, 1935 in Ironton, Ohio.  The son of a farmer whose mother died when he was 5 grew up wanting to be in the music business.  He began songwriting and working in radio in his teens before moving to Los Angeles in 1955 where he began writing and recording songs the Mercury Records Fraternity label. When he was drafted into the army in 1958 he wrote a parody song and demo, before he left for the service, intended to be recorded by his friend Bill Parsons.  After he left for the army RCA Records found his recording of the song and released it under the name of Bill Parsons since that was the name on the demo.  The song “The All-American Boy” (a parody of Elvis Presley going into the army) became a hit single reaching #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.  When Bare returned from the army he began recording more parody songs with little success until he switched to a more country sound in the early 1960’s.  His first major success in the 60’s was “Shame On Me” (#23 Billboard Hot 100 & #18 Billboard Hot Country Singles) in 1962.  That song led to a series of country and crossover hit songs including “Detroit City” (#16 Hot 100 & #6 Country Singles), “”500 Miles Away From Home” (#10 Hot 100 & #5 Country Singles) and “Miller’s Cave” (#33 Hot 100 & #4 Country Singles).  After that Bobby did not have another Billboard Top 40 hit song on the pop charts, but had 55 Top 40 Billboard Country Singles, with his last one charting in 1983.  Bobby Bare recorded 36 albums between 1962 and 1983 on RCA Victor, Mercury and Columbia Records.  His next recording was 22 years later was the 2005 Dualtone Records “The Moon Was Blue” CD.  Since then he has recorded two more albums “Dreams of Yesterday” and “Darker Than Light”.   Bobby Bare’s son Bobby Bare Jr. is also a country musician.  He and his father were nominated for a Grammy award for their duet “Daddy What If” when Bare Jr. was eight years old.  Bobby Bare also recorded albums with country singers Skeeter Davis (“Tunes For Two and “Your Husband, My Wife”), Norma Jean and Liz Anderson (“The Game Of Triangles”)  and Mel Tillis, Waylon Jennings and Jerry Reed (“Old Dogs”).  Bobby Bare is truly a country music legend who continues performing to this day.

Bobby Bare’s early life and career

Country music singer-songwriter Bobby Bare gained recognition for his hits “The All American Boy,” “Detroit City,” and “500 Miles Away from Home.”  He reached the peak of his career during the late 50s to 60s music era. Bare was born Robert Joseph Bare Sr. on April 7, 1935 in Ironton, Ohio. Bare had been recording songs during in the early 1950’s but none of them made any commercial impact. Even his early rock n roll releases on Capitol failed to sell as well.

Bobby Bare’s heyday in the 1960’s

In 1958 Bare came up with the song called “The All-American Boy.” He made a demo of it for his friend Bill Parsons for him to record but the label Fraternity Records rejected Parson’s version and chose Bare’s. Early the following year, “The All-American Boy” ranked at #2 on the national chart while it reached the UK chart on #22. However, the label made an error: all of the copies of “The All-American Boy” was billed instead as “Bill Parsons.”

Bare’s musical success as a country music singer kept on going especially when he was signed by Chet Atkins to RCA Records. In 1962, he cut his debut single for RCA called “Shame on Me” which peaked at #22 on the pop charts. The follow-up “Detroit City” became a hit in 1963, reaching the Billboard Hot 100 chart at #16 while it was #6 on the country chart. Later that year, a bigger hit followed with “500 Miles Away From Home,” (based on Hedy Wesr’s “500 Miles”) registering on both pop and country charts at #10 and #5 respectively. In 1964, Bare had a minor hit with “Miller’s Cave” which peaked modestly at #33 on the pop chart and #4 country. He also won a Grammy for Best Country and Western Recording by that year.

In 1965, Bare was nominated twice at the Grammy Awards for Best Country & Western Vocal Performance and Best Country & Western single for “Four Strong Winds.” He was again nominated at the Grammy’s for Best Country & Western Male Vocal Performance for “Talk Me Some Sense” in 1966. During that time, Bare also collaborated with fellow country music artists such as Norma Jean, Liz Anderson and Skeeter Davis whom he worked with two duet albums.

Bare’s career in the 1970’s onwards

After his time with RCA, Bare moved to Mercury Records where his first single for the label “How I Got to Memphis” was an instant country hit which registered at #3 on the country chart. Further minor country hits followed for Mercury such as “Come Sundown” and “Please Don’t Tell Me How The Story,”What Am I Gonna Do” and “Sylvia’s Mother.”

In 1973, Bare had a second chance on his former label RCA and stayed there until 1977. He began releasing novelty songs, one of them was “Marie Laveau” which went to #1 country. Along with son Bobby Bare Jr., he recorded the song “Daddy What If” which became a big country hit at #2 and barely made it to the Top 40 pop chart. These two songs were Bare’s last singles entered on the Top 10 hits on any chart.

Moving to Columbia Records in 1978, Bare continued to make country hits (like “Sleep Tight, Good Night Man,” “Numbers,” and “Willie Jones,” among others). He also issued his two critically-acclaimed albums “Bare” and “Sleeper Whereever I Fall” on that year. He also had a duet with Rosanne Cash with “No Memories Hangin’ Round” giving them a Top 20 country hit. On his 1980 album Down and Crazy, Bare was quite experimental with Southern rock which was proven by the song “Numbers.” In 1981, he went back to his classic country sound with the album As Is. 

Recent years

In 2012, Bare wrote “Things Change” and performed it with Norwegian singer Petter Øien. They made it as an entry to Melodi Grand Prix (the biggest song contest in Norway) hoping to advance to the Eurovision Song Contest, which was about to be held in Baku, Azerbaijan. “Things Change” made to the Melodi Grand Prix’s final round, but only finished third.

In 2013 Bare was inducted into the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame together with other country greats Cowboy Jack Clement and Kenny Rogers.

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