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Artist Profile


Bob Atcher - The Dean of the Cowboys

Bob Atcher was a star of film, TV, radio and records from the 1920s through the 1990s. He recorded most of his career on Columbia records on 78s, 45s and 33 rpm LPs. He was a star on the WLS National Barn Dance, later appearing on the show when it moved to WGN radio and TV. He was originally featured as a folk singer who later became famous for his renditions of western and country songs, some which he wrote himself. He first recorded Cool Water after Bob Nolan heard a true life story of Atcher's near death experience in the badlands of North Dakota. He later gained fame as the 4 term mayor of Schaumburg, Illinois, where he was primarily responsible for planning the growth of the town from 600 to 35,000 residents. He died in 1993.

The Dean of the Cowboy Singers Cover
  • The Dean of the Cowboy Singers
  • Country, Americana
  • Bob Atcher
  • 05/11/2008
  • The Dean of the Cowboy Singers
Liner Notes: This album was originally released in 1966 on Columbia records (Mono-CL 2232, Stereo CS 9032). It was produced by Don Law and Frank Jones. The album marks the first time the Anita Kerr singers and the Jordanaires recorded together. The listing of the musicians on the album is lost, but Grady Martin's guitar playing is notable on several of the cuts. The following notes are from the original release of the album. Bob Atcher, THE DEAN OF THE COWBOY SINGERS, was born on a small tobacco farm in Hardin Co. Kentucky. When he was a boy, his father, a renowned fiddler, traded his best hunting dog for a guitar for Bob. While still quite young, he joined his dad and three brothers playing for local square dances and socials. After the family farm was taken as part of the Ft. Knox reservation, the family moved to N. Dakota where Bob learned the ways and songs of the western cowpunchers. Later, during his student days at the University of Kentucky, he found that other folks enjoyed hearing songs of Dakota hills and plains. Performances over the college radio station led to a career with various stations and networks in Kentucky, Indiana and Chicago, IL. During his service during WWII, he performed on guitar, 5 string banjo, hoedown fiddle and harmonica. When Rex Allen left Chicago's famous radio program, the WLS National Barn Dance, in the late 1940s, Bob Atcher was hired to replace him. He played, sang and emceed the show on WLS and later on WGN radio and TV. Record producers, fellow performers, and friends call Bob "Dean of the Cowboy Singers" because he was the only real cowboy who had begun recording in the 1920s and continued to make regular appearances on radio, TV, motion pictures, and in person. Before his death in 1993, he performed in all the major European capitals and made hundreds of appearances throughout the US and Canada. In addition to his performing career, he owned and managed a film studio, an FM station, and was mayor of Schaumburg, IL for 16 years from 1959-1975. He also served on the board of directors of many local charities. The Western Side of Bob Atcher The Last Round-up: Tennyson's familiar poem "Crossing the Bar" - Sunset and evening star, and one clear call for me - and Billy Hill's famous song have been compared for the comfroting views toward our last days on earth. Sierry Petes: This song about the Sierra Prieta mountains was written by Gail I. Gardner, a rough, tough cowboy of the late 1880s and early 1890s. Gail wrote many songs and lived in Prescott AZ where he was postmaster for half a century. Sierry Petes is Gail's way of putting the devil in "proper perspective." Cool Water: Bob Nolan wrote the song, Bob Atcher lived it. Lost for three days in midsummer heat in the alkali country in N. Dakota without water when chasing a stray, Bob Atcher witnessed a "miracle" when his horse pawed through the earth's crust to reveal an artesian spring as Bob faced certain death. Riders in the Sky: An Age-old legend comes to life in a song by Stan Jones, Texas rancher. According to the legend, the vision of the "riders" is a warning to a cowman to change his ways, or ride into Eternity in fruitless attempt to catch an elusive herd. Stan's song preserves this colorful legend. Also known as Ghost Herd in the Sky. Boots and Saddle: It's a rare wanderer indeed who has never felt even momentary pangs of homesickness. The range has just as strong a pull for the westerner as the bright lights of Broadway do for a New Yorker. Of course, nearly everyone wants to "go back" only after achieving success; but Boots and Saddle is the song of a man who just wants to go home. The Place Where I Worship: In the heart of a huge city, completely surronded by man-made things, it is easy to over-rate Man and his material accomplishments. A remedy is to get out in the open country, to surround yourself with things that are made by the hand of God. Here, Man takes his proper place, a creature of God charged with the responsibility of earning a reward in Eternity. The Country Side of Bob Atcher Have I Told You Lately That I Love You: In this song, Scotty Wiseman (a fellow star of the WLS Barn Dance in the duo Lulubelle and Scotty) wrote of true love, untainted with threats, recriminations or accusations of cheating. As long as two people deeply love one another, this song will always be popular. I Want To Be Wanted: Wanted is a word that applies only to outlaws and orphans. In Bob Atcher's song, it becomes a needful part of romance. Letter Without Words: Half a picture says much more than the traditional "thousand words" in this song. Although it signals the end of a romance, it suggests that the singer will remain constant and await a turn for the better. Since only temporarily forgetting a promise is the trouble here, there's hope for this couple. Crying Myself To Sleep: Although women and children cry for a good many reasons, me are less likely to - or at least are less likely to admit it! To suggest that a broken romance could bring teast to a man's eyes is to compromise his rugged image of himself. Perhaps his admission of crying, as in this song, meant to appeal to the mother instinct in his ex-mate. Old Fiddler Joe: Bob's father, George C. Atcher, former Kentucky State Champion old-time fiddler, died in 1963. Bob says this song is a farily accurate description of the scenes he witnessed hundreds of times as his father "fiddled away the evenings." I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes: Intended as pure comedy, this rendition of Bob's song depicts a degree of self-pity seldom heard outside the privacy of the home. Oddly enough, the song's effect on a large audience is generally the intended one; solo listeners, however, are likely to exhibit a wide assortment of reactions.
  1. The Last Round-up
  2. Sierry Petes
  3. Cool Water
  4. Riders In the Sky
  5. Boots and Saddle
  6. The Place Where I Worship
  7. Have I Told You Lately That I Love You...
  8. I Want To Be Wanted
  9. Letter Without Words
  10. Crying Myself To Sleep
  11. Old Fiddler Joe
  12. I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes...