Robert Lynn "Bob" Livingston (born November 26, 1948) is an American singer-songwriter, bass player, and a founding member of The Lost Gonzo Band. Livingston was a key figure instigating the cosmic cowboy, progressive country and outlaw country music movements that distinguished the Austin, Texas music scene in the 1970s. Over the years, Bob Livingston has gained a reputation as a band leader, solo artist, session musician and sideman in country music. He has toured without stop for 44 years, and is one of the most experienced and recorded musicians in all of Texas music. Livingston's newest CD, Gypsy Alibi, released by New Wilderness Records in 2011, won the "Album of the Year" at the Texas Music Awards 2011.
Bob was born in San Antonio, Texas, but raised in Lubbock. By the mid-1960s, he was active on the Lubbock music scene that was blossoming at the time along with several other Texas music artists such as Jimmy Dale Gilmore, Joe Ely, Butch Hancock, Terry Allen, Jesse Taylor and David Halley. Bob sharpened his skills as a guitarist and singer while attending Lubbock High and Texas Tech University. In 1968, he opened a folk club in Lubbock called The Attic, and shortly afterwards left Lubbock to pursue his own career in music.
American music career:
One of Bob's first shows was to play for tips plus room and board in Red River, New Mexico. There, he met a folk group called Three Faces West, whose members included Texas artist Ray Wylie Hubbard, Rick Fowler and Wayne Kidd. While playing in Aspen, Colorado in 1969, Livingston was discovered by talent scout Randy Fred and was signed to Capitol Records. After meeting fellow Texas musician Michael Murphey in California, Livingston moved to Wrightwood, California and collaborated in a songwriting venture with Murphey, forming a music publishing company called Mountain Music Farm with other songwriters Roger Miller and Guy Clark. Bob's Capitol Records contract was cancelled due to a company personnel change, and he subsequently opted to join Michael Murphey's band and play bass, touring and recording together on Murphey's classic albums Geronimo's Cadillac and Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir.
By 1971, Bob had relocated to Austin, Texas and was playing in a backing band that switched between Michael Murphey and Jerry Jeff Walker. Eventually, Murphey and Walker's interchangeable band condensed into their own group, called The Lost Gonzo Band. With Murphey and Walker, The Lost Gonzo Band helped bring about the progressive country genre, and along with the redneck rock and outlaw country movements, defined a distinct "Austin Sound". Livingston and the Lost Gonzo Band lent their talents to Jerry Jeff Walker for his seminal album Viva Terlingua, among many other records in Walker's career. Within time, the group achieved success in their own right and pursued a career for several years, signing contracts for three albums with Capitol Records and MCA. The original Lost Gonzo Band members were Bob Livingston, John Inmon, Gary P. Nunn, Tomas Ramirez, Kelly Dunn and Donny Dolan. Dubbed "The Phoenix Band of Austin", The Lost Gonzo Band has reappeared time and again for 40 years under their own name (as well as backing up various Texas artists) at the Armadillo World Headquarters, Austin City Limits, Texas Connection, Kerrville Folk Festival, Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic, South by Southwest Music Festival and Austin Aqua Fest. Austin, Texas has won national recognition as the premier place to watch live music performances, a city now known as "The Live Music Capital of the World."
Livingston and Murphey were largely responsible for the "Cosmic Cowboy" term that arose in the Austin music scene. Predominantly known as "Robert" Livingston in this stage of his career, Bob gradually became known by the nickname "Cosmic Bob", perhaps due to the mystical nature of some of the earlier songs of Murphey's work, and in reference to Murphey's song "Cosmic Cowboy". According to several accounts, Bob and Michael Murphey were on a roof at night, and Bob stared up at the stars and said "I just want to be a cosmic cowboy." Not long after, Murphey penned the lyrics: "I just want to be a cosmic cowboy, I just want to ride and rope and hoot. I just want to be a cosmic cowboy, a supernatural country rockin' galoot."
Bob Livington's songs have appeared in The Lost Gonzo Band's albums, his solo records, and in Jerry Jeff Walker's albums throughout Walker's career. Songs for Walker include "Public Domain" (1975 Ridin' High), "Head Full of Nothin'", and "It's a Good Night for Singing" (1976 It's a Good Night for Singing), "Roll on Down the Road" (1977 A Man Must Carry On), "Bittersweet" (1981 Reunion), "Gonzo Compadres" (1993 Viva Luckenbach), "Life's Too Short" (1996 Scamp), "Wanted for Love" (1998 Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits).
In 2004, American rap artist Lloyd Banks of G-Unit recorded a song titled "Warrior" on his debut album The Hunger for More. The rapper's song contained a music sample of "Hold On", a song written and recorded by both Bob Livingston and Ray Wylie Hubbard, but never formally released. "Warrior" reached #1 on the Billboard 200 charts and went platinum.
Bob's song "Love Cannot Be Broken" was in the soundtrack of Nobelity- a documentary about the world as seen through the eyes of various Nobel laureates, directed and produced by Turk Pipkin.
International music career:
Beginning in 1985, Livingston began a series of music tours sponsored by the U.S. State Department and the USIS. Acting as an ambassador of American music, he has been sent repeatedly to over 25 different countries throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, with an aim to promote goodwill and cross-cultural understanding through musical exchange. Bob has toured Yemen, Bahrain, Oman, Doha, Syria, Kuwait, Qatar, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Thailand, Morocco, Tunisia and Angola, among others. These tours began as a solo act, but eventually included such musicians as long-time associate and guitarist John Inmon, fiddler Richard Bowden, and Bob's son, Tucker. They gave performances and workshops on the art of guitar playing, songwriting craft, and a history of Texas music and folklore. In each tour, he regularly invited local musicians onstage to collaborate with their indigenous instruments. What followed were concerts that demonstrated to royalty, state figures and public audiences alike a sense of unity and brotherhood through music. Editing and production funding for a documentary film of Livingston's Eastern travels are currently being sought after. His tours abroad have yielded a kaleidoscope of imagery in which Livingston teaches audiences around the world how to yodel, sing Hank Williams songs, and perform Buddy Holly's "Not Fade Away" renditions with groups as diverse as Nepal's Sur Sudha, The Royal Oman Orchestra, Ood players in Yemen, Syrian flamenco guitar players, Geisha singers in Vietnam, sitar and tabla players in India and Angolan drum and choir ensembles.
Texas Music International (TMI) and Cowboys & Indians:
In 2000, Bob created his own company, Texas Music International, an organization dedicated to bringing different musics of the world together for human and cultural harmony. His first venture was to create a multi-cultural group of musicians from Texas and India called Cowboys & Indians. Cowboys & Indians is a non-profit organization supported by the Texas Commission on the Arts that gives educational and entertaining workshops and performances in Texas schools and theaters, with emphasis on children's interaction and participation. Mixed instrumentation, music and cultural lore fuse with Native American, Texas folk and Indian themes that include Bharatanatyam dance, Native American flute and story song, Hindu mythology and cowboy yodeling. Based in Austin, members of Cowboys & Indians have included John Inmon, Oliver Rajamani, Richard Bowden, Tucker Livingston, Bradley Kopp, Karen Mal, Paul Pearcy and Bharatnatyam dancer Anu Naimpally.
Livingston's discography spans beyond progressive country, singer-songwriter and rock music to such myriad recordings as film music for The Texas Chain Saw Massacre,environmental and peace activist albums, and a children's record on Gentle Wind's record label, called Open The Window. During his career, Bob has performed with a long list of musicians that reads as a who's who list in Texas music, like Willie Nelson, Willis Alan Ramsey, Leon Russell, and Garth Brooks. He has acted as Chairman of the Austin Music Commission, and served on the Board of Directors at the Texas Music Museum. In 2009, Bob Livingston completed another tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department to France, Switzerland and several nations in Africa. He currently lives in Austin and continues his work with Cowboys & Indians, The Lost Gonzo Band and his solo career. Livingston's newest CD, Gypsy Alibi was co-produced by Livingston and Lloyd Maines and released on January 27, 2011 on New Wilderness Records. On July 9, 2011, Gypsy Alibi, won "Album of the Year" at the Texas Music Awards 2011.
Text from this biography licensed under creative commons license