Ben Dorcy III, the world’s oldest roadie and most trusted confidant to some of country music’s greatest legends, has died at the age of 92.
Dorcy began working as a roadie for country music singer Hank Thompson back in 1950. For more than 60 years he was an integral part of the lives of some of country music’s greatest acts.
Dorcy was once John Wayne’s valet. He then moved on to touring with the likes of Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, Johnny Cash and more. Perhaps his most well-known roadie experience was working with country legend Willie Nelson, who credits Dorcy as the world’s first roadie.
Though his presence backstage became less and less as he was growing older, Dorcy was still working up until his death. His welcoming personality throughout his years in country music earned him the nickname, “Lovey.” He was such an important figure that songs were written in his honor. Waylon Jenning’s wrote “Ode To Ben Dorcy,” and Red Sovine’s wrote “Big Ben Dorcy The Third.”
Dorcy was the inspiration behind the documentary, King of the Roadies. The documentary shares the details of Dorcy’s journey to becoming a legend among legends. It also features recollections by Willie Nelson himself.
In 2009, Dorcy became the first inductee into the Roadie Hall of Fame in Nashville. For the past five years, those whose lives Dorcy has impacted, gather to celebrate Ben Dorcy Day. The annual event takes place at Floore’s Country Store just outside of San Antonio, Texas. Floore’s is where Dorcy first met Nelson.
It may have been Hank Thompson who said it best in a letter of recommendation for Dorcy.
“Although there are many helpers, assistants and stage people today often referred to as ‘roadies’, the one who set the pace and cleared the path for those to follow is a man well known among his peers. He is an individual who fine-tuned the delicate art of properly handling and setting up of band’s equipment, attending wardrobe, maintaining immaculate traveling quarters, and attention to the detailed needs of his associates.”
Ben Dorcy’s contributions have been shaping the roadie side of the music industry for more than six decades. They will continue to do so even after his passing.