Pinkard and Bowden
In the tradition of Homer and Jethro came the riotous barnyard humor and brilliant song parodies of Sandy Pinkard and Richard Bowden. Unlike their forebears, Pinkard and Bowden's humor was definitely adult, sometimes off-color, and their language was occasionally rough enough to warrant explicit language warnings on their records; in fact, they were the first country comedy artists to have such an advisory posted on their music, entitling their second album “PG-13.”
Both Pinkard and Bowden were successful singers/songwriters/musicians before teaming up. Pinkard began his music career with Ramblin' Jack Elliott in California. He made one unsuccessful bid to get signed in Nashville and entered the professional rodeo circuit in Fort Worth, Texas. He met John Anderson in 1975, who listened to Pinkard's demos and encouraged him to try Nashville again, even purchasing him a round-trip ticket. This time he succeeded, and such artists as Tanya Tucker, Ray Charles, and Brenda Lee recorded his songs; in 1979, Mel Tillis had a number one hit with Pinkard's "Coca Cola Cowboy." Other singers scoring top hits with his songs included David Frizzell and Shelly West ("You're the Reason God Made Oklahoma"), Anne Murray ("Blessed Are the Believers") and Vern Gosdin ("I Can Tell By the Way You Dance").
Bowden got his start in high school in 1963 forming the Texas band Shiloh alongside his schoolmate and future Eagle, Don Henley. After their group disbanded in 1970, the two joined Linda Ronstadt's band, which included another future Eagle, Glenn Frey. When Frey and Henley left to form the Eagles, Bowden remained with Ronstadt until '74, then briefly teamed with former Flying Burrito Brothers' steel guitarist, Sneaky Pete Kleinow, releasing one album on Ariola (Holland). He then hit the road and played with different performers, including Roger McGuinn (Byrds), recording one album for Columbia Records as “Roger McGuinn & Band.” Two years later, he joined Dan Folgelberg's “Fool's Gold” band, touring the arena circuit with Dan for two more years. He then embarked upon a couple of tours with rock legend Johnny Rivers before forming another country rock band. During the early '80s, he and his newly formed band, Blue Steel, opened for the Eagles' Long Run tour before their (Eagles) initial breakup. Bowden also recorded on Stevie Nicks' first quadruple Platinum solo album, sang backup vocals with Bonnie Raitt on the Urban Cowboy album as well as recording on albums by Johnny Rodriguez, Doug Kershaw and others. In '82, Bowden left Los Angeles to try his hand as a songwriter in Nashville.
Pinkard and Bowden were introduced to each other through their mutual friend, record producer, Jim Ed Norman. They began writing songs together; although they tried to write seriously, they found that everything they penned was funny, so they took their act onto the national comedy club circuit and built up a huge following. Their debut album, Writers in Disguise, featured such musical parodies as "Blue Hairs Drivin' in My Lane." The two had their first chart success with Adventures in Parodies, a montage of cuts on an LP 45 rpm vinyl record.. Among their other favorites were: "Elvis Was a Narc," "She Thinks I Steal Cars," "Libyan on a Jet Plane," eventually topping the country charts with a hit single, “Mama, She's Lazy,” spoofing the Judds' first hit, “Mama, He's Crazy.” After releasing their third successful album, Live … In Front of a Bunch of D_ckh__ds, in 1992 they released Cousins, Cattle, and Other Love Stories, which featured takeoffs on pop songs like Eric Clapton's "Cocaine" ("Propane"). By the early '90s, Pinkard and Bowden were more involved in performing at comedy clubs than with country music; they also began appearing on rock radio station morning shows to promote their evening gigs. After making the switch, their comedy became a little bluer and definitely blacker, as seen in their song "Friends in Crawl Spaces," inspired by the simultaneous advent of Garth Brooks and the trial of serial killer/cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. The song became a huge underground morning radio hit, allowing the pair to fill venues of 2000 plus seats. Their popularity gained them the attention of a national marketing firm which released a compilation of P&B "TV friendly" cuts from their first four albums which was marketed on late night television as Pinkard & Bowden -- Gettin' Stupid.
Retiring the act in 1998, Richard returned to his hometown of Linden, Texas, to care for his aging mother. With the help of friends and fellow musicians, he renovated the old abandoned American Legion auditorium and opened a 400 seat concert venue called Music City Texas Theater (musiccitytexas.org). Bowden served for 10 years as executive director bringing in such old friends as Jackson Browne, Don Henley, The Bellamy Brothers, Merle Haggard, George Jones and a host of other big name acts to play to sold out crowds.
Presently Bowden is happily married to his second wife, Holly, designing and manufacturing his own invention, the Bowden B-Bender (bowdenbbenders.com) and maintaining the Pinkard and Bowden website. He performs around Texas with his acoustic duo, the Bowden/Early Experience. (Facebook: The Bowden/Early Experience)
Currently Sandy Pinkard is happily married, living and writing in West Virginia, working to promote young musicians and bands from his area and helping to book major acts for local fairs and events.
~ Contributing writers: Sandra Brennan, Rovi, R. Bowden, Holly Bowden