In July, 1967, master Nashville studio musician Fred Carter, Jr. independently produced Bobby Bridger's first record. A veteran of the 'glory days' of the Louisiana Hayride that in the 1950s launched the careers of Hank Williams, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Johnny Horton, Webb Pierce and a host of others, Fred was also the lead guitarist in Ronnie Hawkins band, 'The Hawks' (later 'The Band'), and his list of studio credits was a virtual 'who's who' of American popular music ranging from Conway Twitty and Roy Orbison to Simon and Garfunkel. When Bridger began his recording career in Nashville, record labels recorded 'singles' (or 45 RPM discs). Two weeks after completing the session, Fred Carter, Jr. negotiated a three single deal for Bobby Bridger with Fred Foster at Monument Records. Foster's Monument Records was the label on which Roy Orbison released his incredible string of hit singles in the early 1960s, and, now part of the SONY corporation, is the record label that launched the Dixie Chicks.
Sharon, Oh Sharon/bw*/I Don't Have Sense Enough
(released Autumn, 1967)
(*'bw' means 'backed with', or the 'B' side of a single release.)
Bobby Bridger's first recording session was on July 17, 1967 in the legendary RCA B Studios in Nashville. Bobby selected a song by Ron Price titled Sharon, Oh Sharon and Fred Carter, Jr. picked a song by Billy Earl Smith that he wanted Bridger to record titled I Don't Have Sense Enough To Come In Out The Pain. (A third song, Three Squares And A Place To Lay My Head, by Bob Montgomery, was recorded but never released.) The engineer for the date was Elvis' guitar original player, Scotty Moore. The session featured John Hartford (Gentle On My Mind) on guitar and dobro banjo, Wayne Moss on guitar, Roy Husky on bass, Willie Ackerman on drums, Hargus 'Pig' Robbins on piano, and Lloyd Green on steel guitar.
Less Of Me/bw/Morgan City
(released Spring, 1968)
Spotlight Singles, March 9, 1968
Special Merit Spotlight
Bobby Bridger - Less of Me (Beechwood -BMI) (Producer: Fred Carter, Jr.) (Writer: Glen Campbell)
"One of the best of the weeks releases was penned by Glen Campbell and performed to perfection by Bridger. Lyric content must be heard."
Newcomer Picks March 9, 1968
Bobby Bridger (Monument 1059)
Less Of Me (2:34) (Beechwood BMI -Campbell)
"Bobby Bridger offers not only a pretty tune, but a strong message that should apply to all in Less Of Me. Deejays in a wide variety of markets owe it to themselves to take a listen and try it a few times. May well go a route similar to Skip A Rope." Flip: Morgan City (2:48) (Pamper BMI Carter)
The second single Fred Carter, Jr. produced on Bobby for Monument was Glen Campbell's wonderful song, Less Of Me. Recorded in the Monument Studios in Nashville, session musicians included Grady Martin (El Paso)on guitar and Bob Moore (Roy Orbison, Everly Bros.) on bass. Bobby enjoyed a surprise 'two-sided' hit single with the record when a young songwriter/helicopter pilot Kris Kristofferson (who happened to be flying roughnecks to offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico), took the 'B' side of the 45, Fred Carter's song, Morgan City, to radio stations in Morgan City, Louisiana, and got it on the air.
Over You/bw/Net Of Fireflies
(released Autumn, 1968)
The third and final single Bobby did with Monument, Over You, was recorded in the Columbia Studios in Nashville and was written by Buddy Holly's boyhood friend and songwriting partner, Bob Montgomery. The 'B' side, Net of Fireflies, was a song by Chris Gantry, a young songwriter from Pennsylvania would soon score a major international hit with Glen Campbell's version of his song, Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife.
In 1968 Fred Carter, Jr. bought a sixteen track studio built by bluegrass legends Lonzo and Oscar. Secluded in the hills outside of Nashville, the Nugget Record label was the beginning of an independent label like Monument, and Fred intended to build it the exact same way. The studio was an ideal recording environment and when Bridger's contract with Monument Records expired after three singles, he was the first artist to sign with Nugget Records.
The World Is Turning On/bw/Why Do I Love You?
(released Winter, 1969)
Bridger's first single on Nugget Records was a pair of Fred Carter's songs, The World Is Turning On/bw/ Why Do I Love You? After the record was released in America in 1969, Fred negotiated a distribution deal in the United Kingdom with Beacon Records and soon the record charted in the UK. (*When Bridger toured the UK frequently during 1988-89, people were still requesting The World Is Turning On.)
The Shelter Of My Mind/bw/A Mood I Was In
(released Autumn, 1969)
Bridger's second and final Nugget single was a Ralph Welsh song titled, The Shelter Of My Mind/bw/ Fred Carter, Jr.'s A Mood I Was In. Released on Nugget in 1969, Fred's old bandmate in 'The Hawks', Levon Helm, eventually recorded A Mood I Was In with his RCO All-Star Band in the mid-'70s.
In 1969 Bridger decided to stop recording other writers material in order to focus on producing and recording his own songs. He raised the money from independent investors for sessions in the Fred Carter, Jr. studios and recorded Merging Of Our Minds in the Spring of 1969. After having the recording rejected by everyone in the business it finally found its way to the desk of Joe Reisman, Vice President of RCA Records in Hollywood, who signed Bridger to a five year, multi-album contract with the famous label. A Texan, Reisman began his career in the big band era, but rose to fame as Patti Page's producer. After arranging and producing music for such seminal television programs as NBC's Calvacade Of Stars, Reisman became Henry Mancini's producer and, soon after that, Julie Andrews, Perry Como, etc. Reisman was Bobby Bridger's executive producer during his tenure at RCA Records.
Merging Of Our Minds(RCA-LSP-4792)
(recorded in Nashville, Spring, 1970)
(released Autumn, 1972)
Bobby Bridger's first album of original songs on RCA records, Merging Of Our Minds, was recorded in the Spring of 1970 at Fred Carter, Jr.'s, studio in Nashville. With Fred's generous assistance and expert guidance, Bridger produced the record and the engineer was Jesse Tharp, who had also been the bassist and Fred's former bandmate during the early 1960s in the Roy Orbison Band. The 'Merging' sessions were also the first master steel guitarist, Pete Drake, did after returning from England, where he played on Beatle George Harrison's classic solo debut, All Things Must Pass. (Drake and Carter also worked together on Bob Dylan's classic 'country' period recordings, Nashville Skyline, John Wesley Hardin, and Blonde On Blonde.) Veteran's of Tracy Nelson's Mother Earth Band, keyboardist, Andy McMahon and drummer, Karl Himmel, joined the session band, as did bassist, Steve Schaefer, guitar player, John Pell, keyboardist, Dennis Burnside and drummers, Jim Wolfe and Billy Cartier. Rounding out the session players were, Fred Carter, Jr. and Bobby Bridger on guitars.
The first mixes of the Nashville 'Merging' sessions were done by Bobby, Fred and Jesse, but, as Fred played guitar for Simon and Garfunkel, he was able to persuade their renowned engineer/co-producer, Roy Halee, to mix the version of 'Merging' that RCA eventually purchased in 1971. The final mixes were done in Hollywood by legendary engineer, Mickey Crawford (Julie Andrews, Henry Mancini, Harry Nilsson, etc.) The album was released in Autumn, 1972 and went out of print in the late 1970s.
And I Wanted To Sing For The People(RCA-APL1-0182)
(recorded Spring, 1973 in Hollywood)
(released Autumn, 1973)
Bobby Bridger's second album on RCA Records, And I Wanted To Sing For The People, was recorded during the Spring of 1973 at the RCA studios in Hollywood. Ron Kramer produced the recording and Richie Schmitt, who rose to fame as the engineer for the Jefferson Airplane, Harry Nilsson, and others, recorded the basic tracks. Mickey Crawford engineered the string sessions and mixed the record with Ron Kramer and Bobby assisting. Legendary L.A. session men, Hal Blaine (drums) and Joe Osborn (bass) were the rhythm section for the sessions and guitar players, Richard Bennett and Michael Anthony, played lead to Bridger's basic rhythm and finger-picking guitar on the tracks. Muscle-Shoals/Memphis transplant to Hollywood, 'Spooner' Oldham, played piano on the sessions; Mike Lang also played piano on several of the tunes. Steve LeFever played string bass on the Butterfly session. Ben Di Tosti also played the arp synthesizer and celeste on Butterfly. Three delightful woman singers, Ginger Blake, Julia Tillman and Maxine Willard helped Bobby do the background vocals. Jim Helms, noted for his score of David Carradine's landmark television series, Kung Fu, arranged and conducted the string dates for the album. The record was released in Autumn, 1973 and went out of print in the late 1970s.
Golden Egg Records
Bridger created Golden Egg Records in 1981 in order to release his LP Heal In The Wisdom. Ironically, the first record for the label would also be the last vinyl record Bridger would release*. In 1981 cassette tapes had already become the most popular medium for music and compact discs would soon come to dominate the music industry. Even though Golden Egg Records was only a twinkle in Bobby's eye then, however, the first sessions for the label were Seekers of the Fleece, which were recorded in Denver, Colorado in 1975.
-established in 1981-
[*A limited number of vinyl long-playing records of Heal In The Wisdom are available on request. If interested see the Shameless Commerce Division of the website.]
A Ballad of the West
Part One: Seekers Of The Fleece
In July, 1975 John and Jim Inmon and Bobby Bridger produced Part One of A Ballad of the West, Seekers Of The Fleece at Denver Sound Studios in Aurora, Colorado and partially in a tipi in the mountains outside of Sadalia, Colorado. Jim Inmon engineered the dates and he and Bobby mixed the recording. The founding members of the Lost Gonzo Band, John Inmon, Gary P. Nunn, Bob Livingston and Donnie Dolan joined Bridger as the musicians on the recording, and the late, great western actor Slim Pickens narrated the piece. Legendary folk musician Ramblin' Jack Elliot, Poet Charles John Quarto, Alaskan songwriter Mike Burton (Nightrider's Lament) and folksinger Mike Williams joined the 'mountain man chorus'.
Heal In The Wisdom
Co-produced by Fred Carter, Jr. and Bridger in the Spring of 1980, Heal In The Wisdom was recorded at the Cartee Three Studios in Nashville and in Austin at Third Coast Studios. Don Cartee was the engineer in Nashville and Vince McGarry was the engineer in Austin. The basic tracks were recorded in Nashville by musicians Fred Carter, Jr. and Bobby Bridger on guitar, Joe Osborn on bass, Jim Wolf on drums, and Bill Ginn on keyboards. The famous Muscle Shoals Horns Section played on two of the cuts. Fred and John Inmon added additional guitar parts in Austin and Bill Ginn arranged, composed and conducted the string section that was overdubbed in Austin. All the background vocals were recorded in Austin by John Inmon, Gary P. Nunn, Bob Livingston and Donnie Dolan (the Lost Gonzo Band) Ray Bensen (Asleep At The Wheel), Mark Capps, Layton Depenning, Andy Murphey, Julie Christensen (later to become Leonard Cohen's principle background vocalist), Tina Marsh, Gary Powell and Natalie Zoe. After completing the Austin overdubs Fred and Bobby returned to Nashville where engineer Lou Bradley, joined them as they mixed and mastered the recording.
Praise for Heal In The Wisdom
'... Bobby Bridger's Heal In The Wisdom says best how we feel about ourselves, our festival and our faith. That's why it has become the anthem of the Kerrville Folk Festival*.
Rod Kennedy, Founder of the Kerrville Folk Festival
(* in 2004'Heal'began its second quarter-century as the festival's anthem.)
'Heal In The Wisdom has become an anthem of hope for a whole generation of musicians and listeners from around the world who find a spiritual need fulfilled in this truly universal song. It is a modern classic.
David Amram, Bernstein's composer - residence of the New York Philharmonic and internationally-acclaimed conductor and jazz musician
'Bobby Bridger is a balladeer/poet who, through Heal In The Wisdom, makes Native American spirituality available to all people.'
The Most-Rev. James Parks Morton, Dean of the Cathedral of
St. John The Divine i,New York City.
'Bridger put his ear to a crack in the egg of the new world -Heal In The Widsom came though.'
Warren Skaaren, screenwriter, Top Gun, Beetlejuice, Beverly Hills Cop I & II and Batman
'There have been times of dark despair when the song Heal In The Wisdom elevated me personally, making me feel lighter and whole.'
Victoria Elliot, Board of Trustees, Esalen Institute
'Bobby Bridger's song, Heal In The Wisdom, brings empowering hope while awakening us to cooperate with Mother Earth -an Earth with purpose and planned destiny which we can see if we dare open our eyes.'
Dr. Don Tilly, Director, The World Peace Center, Lincoln, Nebraska
'Bobby Bridger is a poet and epic balladeer whose work captures the essence of the coming age.'
Jacquelyn Small, noted therapist and author, Becoming Naturally Therapeutic and Transformers.
'Heal In The Wisdom is a hauntingly beautiful, emotionally moving experience. It is an important healing song.'
Sandy Levine, The New York Open Center
'At the Center For Attitudinal Healing we believe health is inner peace. Bobby Bridger's song Heal In The Wisdom perfectly expresses healing into the wholeness of a deeper purpose and plan, regardless of external circumstance.'
Ben Sorrell, Director, The Austin Center For Attitudinal Healing
'There is a new global consciousness being born on the planet. Heal In The Wisdom is an anthem for that consciousness.'
Leonard M. Marks, entertainment lawyer, The Beatles/Apple Corp; Vice President of the Temple of Understanding inner-faith organization.
'The kids are singing Heal In The Wisdom and looking forward to your return.'
Sergi Schetchenko, Headmaster of Kiev School 155 in the Ukraine.
Aldebaran and The Falling Star
(1986-Six Song Demo)
In June, 1986, in response to a request from Columbia Records in New York, Bridger went into the studio to record a six-song demonstration recording of songs from his musical Aldebaran and The Falling Star. Representatives from the label had seen two workshops by the National Theater Institute in Connecticut and, as Columbia Records was about to start a specialty label for 'art' projects, requested a demo.
The late Bill Ginn and Bobby Bridger produced the tracks and Spencer Starnes engineered in his Bee Creek Studios deep in the Austin Hill country. Founding members of the jazz-fusion group, Passenger, Bill Ginn, Mitch Watkins, Roscoe Beck, Steve Meader and vocalist, Jennifer Warnes (two-time Academy-Award nominee for Love Lift Us Up Where We Belong and The Time Of My Life), sequestered themselves in the Bee Creek Studios to record the demo. Unfortunately, the avant-guard label Columbia planned to start failed to get off the ground and the demonstration recording did not find a home there.
First Act Demo, 'Aldebaran'
Moving forward with the 'Aldebaran' project, during the Fall and Winter of 1987 with a small grant from philanthropist, Jeffrey Bronfman, Bill Ginn and Bobby Bridger went into Hershall Cunningham's Riverside Studios in Austin and recorded, edited and mixed a 'First Act Demo' of Aldebaran and The Falling Star.
A Ballad of the West
Parts Two and Three: Pahaska and Lakota
(recorded Winter/Spring, 1999 and March/April, 2000)
During the Winter and Spring of 1999 Bridger went into his friend Jim Inmon's Hill On The Moon Studios in East Austin. There, engineer, 'Big John' Main and Bridger recorded Pahaska with Bobby accompanying himself on guitar. When Senior Curator at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Dr. Paul Fees, arranged a small grant by the Mary Jester Allen Fund to help Bridger record Pahaska, he decided to ask John and John Inmon and Bob Livingston of the Lost Gonzo Band to help him complete what they set out to do in 1975 and, in March and April of 2000 the team recorded Lakota and over-dubbed parts over Bridger's earlier basic tracks of Pahaska.
the epic trilogy, A Ballad of the West
Parts One, Two and Three in four discs
(released January, 2002)
Praise for the Four-Disc Set of
the epic trilogy, A Ballad of the West
'Thirty years ago the cosmic cowboy-progressive country sound swept through Austin, the first full-blown scene in what has evolved in Austin music. But of all its trailblazers -Jerry Jeff Walker, Willis Alan Ramsey, Willie Nelson- Bobby Bridger is the one who has stayed most on message. The Houston-based resident has remained true to his obsession with mountain man and great-uncle Jim Bridger, Native Americans and the settling of the frontier by writing books and performing in one-man shows while continuing to make music on the subjects he loves most. He adds to all that with A Ballad of the West, a trilogy that tells how the West was won and lost from the perspectives of pioneers, the Lakota Sioux, and Buffalo Bill Cody. This four-disc set is so lyrically rich it is best approached as an audio book, and taken on those terms, it's the perfect complement to Bridger's life work.'
Joe Nick Patoski, Texas Monthly Magazine
'A Ballad of the West is the ultimate collection... (four CDs that feature 32 songs)...one that every western enthusiast, history teacher, and writer should have in their library.'
Literally Horses: Poetry, Fiction
and other expressions of the horse
'As close to a Homeric interpretation of the American West as you're gonna hear.'
The Houston Press
Songs From A Ballad of the West
(Released Fall, 2003)
After releasing the four-disc set of A Ballad of the West many disc jockey's around the country suggested to Bridger that he should release a separate disc featuring the songs from the epic ballads so it would be easier to play them on the radio. So Bobby selected five of his favorite songs from each part of the epic trilogy in this special collection.
Praise for Songs From A Ballad of the West
'Bobby Bridger is a modern epic poet or bard, one referred to as the 'Shakespeare of the American west'. Bridger's rich musical trilogy spans the mountain man era, the journeys of Buffalo Bill and the Lakota world of Black Elk. The original three-part album is a listening experience worthy of a long weekend. But if all you have is an hour, this CD offers stunning excerpts from the trilogy that will awaken the hunger for more. Finely crafted, superbly sung -history brought eerily alive.
True West Magazine
'Bobby Bridger, a descendant of mountain man Jim Bridger, portrays the story of the west on this new compact disk featuring many of the original songs from his epic trilogy, A Ballad of the West, a program he has presented across the country for more than 20 years and one that is a history lesson told through song stories.
Seekers of the Fleece is part one of Bridger's epic trilogy and includes songs related to the days of the mountain men such as Rendezvous and People Carry On. The CD begins with songs from the second part of the trilogy, Lakota, all of them related to northern Plains Indian culture, including Sundance, Red Cloud and Lakota. Lastly he performs songs such as Dime Novels and The Rainbow Trail that relate to the life story of Buffalo Bill Cody from Pahaska, the final part of his trilogy.
Through his music Bridger weaves a tapestry that relates the story of the West. This CD complements his more extensive four-CD release of A Ballad of the West which includes all the songs and the narrative from the one-man theatrical program he performs at Old Trail Town in Cody, Wyoming each summer and at other venues the rest of the year.
Aside from the history in the lyrics of these songs, the musicianship -in particular the rhythms and instrumentation- make this an exceptional album.'
The American Cowboy Magazine
The Texas Christmas Collection
(Released in 1985)
Features Bobby Bridger's version of Silver Bells as well as other Christmas classics by Willie Nelson, Jerry Jeff Walker, Marcia Ball, B. J. Thomas, B.W. Stevenson, Eric Johnson, Steven Fromholz, Julie Christensen, Arthur Brown, Gary P. Nunn, Pressure, 14K, Beto and The Fairlanes, Rusty Weir and Karen Kraft.
The Austin Collection: Music For Miracles
Features Bridger's Heal In The Wisdom with songs by Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, Joe Ely, Marcia Ball, Timbuk 3, Poi Dog Pondering, Tish Hinojosa, Asleep At The Wheel, Omar and The Howlers, Charlie Sexton, The Killer Bees and Jerry Jeff Walker
Songs of Wyoming: The Wyoming Centennial Record Project
Features Bridger's The Hawk with eleven other Wyoming artists such as Chris LaDoux, Bruce Hauser, and The Grizzlies.