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Willie Nelson’s First Roadie, Ben Dorcy, Has Died

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Respected roadie Ben Dorcy III died on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017. He was 92.

Referred to many as “Lovey,” Dorcy was dubbed the “world’s oldest roadie” and is remembered for his more than six decades of work experience with musicians. The beloved roadie got his start working for country singer Hank Thompson in 1950 and went on to become John Wayne’s valet and personal assistant. He also toured with legends like Elvis Presley, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash, among others.

But Dorcy spent many years — including his final years — serving as a roadie for Willie Nelson, who coined the term “world’s first roadie” to refer to his longtime friend and colleague. Nelson’s family was so enthralled by Dorcy’s life on the road that a documentary, King of the Roadies, is being made in his honor. Even Waylon Jennings wrote a song about Dorcy called “Ode to Ben.”

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Nelson shared kind words upon learning of Dorcy’s death, writing on Facebook: “Ben ‘Lovey’ Dorcy was our friend and part of the Willie Nelson Family. Thank you Ben for years of hard work and sound advice. We love you.”

A recommendation letter from Hank Thompson is perhaps the best representation of how Dorcy touched people’s lives:

“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. I’m proud of the fact that I was the first name artist to hire his services and thereby launch the meteoric career of a gentleman un-paralleled in his unique profession.”

Dorcy was born on May 19, 1925. He was the first inductee into Nashville’s Roadie Hall of Fame back in 2009. Funeral arrangements are pending.

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