Getting off the phone last week with Buddy, I began to ponder just how long we had been friends. These days he is my “guitar doctor.” We had been chatting about one of my guitars that had wound up needing special care, the kind that only a tech/acoustic/wood wizard can supply. As he explained to me what he had done with the guitar, I thought about the “finicky-ness” (I just made up that word, I think) of wood instruments, and how much alchemy and dead reckoning has to be balanced with straight science in the care and repair of them. I was very grateful, yet again, for my friendship with him, and I began to look back, as you do when God grants you a long life to look back on.
The first time I ever saw Buddy Squyres, he was onstage in a great old music venue in Amarillo known as Sneakers, owned and operated by the beloved Anderson, Flesher and Key. It was 1990, but I remember it like it was the day before yesterday. Buddy was thumping some serious electric bass with a great horn band called Vic Fontana and The Automatics. The band, which has survived generations, has become known and revered as a kind of Amarillo music institution in its own right, with many musicians, myself included, having served in its ranks and graduated with experience to show for it. But that’s a story for another day.
With the “Roaring ’90s” set to begin, Buddy was at the top of his game. These were glory days for a long list of really great bands and musicians beginning to develop their own style, and writing some of their own material, and a certain kind of Amarillo magic was in the air. But playing bass for Vic Fontana and The Automatics, as I was about to learn, was just the tip of the Buddy Squyres iceberg.
Buddy was also a fellow broadcaster. He was at KACV-TV when I first met him, and did everything from filming, editing and special production of TV and radio for decades. Many hats are worn by those who choose radio and/or TV, and it has never been for the faint of heart! He is one of the few people in the broadcast industry that I have ever known to live in peace and harmony within its confines. In a competitive world full of deadlines, egos, impossible hours, exacting language and communication demands—and general hard work— everyone has kind words about Buddy. In his 25-year career at KACV, he saw the station become a PBS affiliate. His total broadcasting career lasted well over 40 years!
Buddy describes his first experience with broadcasting: “I was flipping burgers at Burger Chef. It was about 1971. The only people who made less than burger flippers in those days were broadcasters. We did what we could to help them out, and I was fascinated by their job. So when I left Burger Chef, they said, ‘Hey, would you like to be a camera guy at Channel 7?’” The rest, as they say, is history.
One of Buddy’s other early jobs (to supplement the cameraman job) was that of a limo driver. “The Civic Center used to need drivers for the bands. They leased limos from funeral homes, and put out feelers for drivers.” Buddy told me it was pretty crazy back in those days, driving around with bands like Three Dog Night, The Doobie Brothers, Grand Funk Railroad, Chicago, and Rare Earth.
A few months into my moving here, I had the privilege of joining The Automatics. It was, and still is, an absolute gas to play music with Buddy Squyres. I remember him from those days as being a fireball onstage, with a characteristic white shirt and dress vest. It was always a treat to see, and hear, which of his bass instruments he chose to play on any given night. He is a multi-instrumentalist, though he considers himself at professional level only on bass and guitar. But just between you and me, I know he also plays mandolin, autoharp, cello, and is the ONLY person I know who plays sitar.
With gifts and work ethic like Buddy has, you can imagine how in demand he is. He plays with Sadie’s Rangers, Tennessee Tuckness, and, on occasion, Andy Chase & Friends. He plays bass on my current album, “Stone Soup,” still in the works as of this writing. I can’t wait for you to hear it!
Buddy has a great family, and if you ever talk to him for any length of time, his love and pride will appear. He has three kids and eight grandchildren. Just try to keep him from smiling while he speaks of them.
Buddy plays the “low tones,” as he calls it, on Sunday mornings these days, at First Methodist in Canyon, and still works on instruments for a few of his very fortunate friends. I am blessed to be counted among them.