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Buck Coghlan


October 2003 from The Peak of Scottsdale Arizona

   Long-time area resident Buck Coghlan was recently elected to the Greater Arizona Country and Western Swing Music Association’s (GACWSMA) hall of fame. That’s not too surprising when you consider that Buck’s first Arizona job was playing bass for a band that backed George Jones and Patsy Cline at the old Madison Square Garden located in Phoenix at 7th Avenue and Jefferson. That was in 1955.

From Wash Tub to Radio

   Buck, the son of a Mississippi cotton farmer, was raised in an area where hillbilly music was a way of life. In 1941, when Buck was in second grade, he saw an older boy playing  a  bass made from  a  number two galvanized wash tub, a hoe handle

Buck with George Jones

and a string. Buck liked what he saw (and heard), and by 1947 had built his own and put it to use playing music with his uncles and cousins. By the time he was sixteen, Buck was playing on a local radio station and “joints”.

Al Casey, Duane Eddy, Dolf Pyer, Buddy Long, Buck Coghlan, & Jimmy Dell - Mirordor Ballroom Phoenix, Az. 1958

The Mirrordor Ballroom - Phoenix Arizona - 1958

Al Casey, Duane Eddy,Dolf Pyer, Buddy Long, Buck Coghlan

and Jimmy Dell

Backing “Opry Performers

   After one year in college, Buck got lots of practice and playing time during a stint in the United States Air Force. Every base had good players. After a tour of duty in Korea, Buck was assigned to Luke Air Force Base where he met Duane Eddy, Buddy Long, Nighta Wheeler, and Al Casey and became a member of the band that backed George Jones and Patsy Cline. In the years that followed, Buck was “lucky enough” to back most of the Grand Ole Opry act, when they appeared at the Riverside Park Ballroom in Phoenix, Arizona. During this time, Coghlan worked with 27 members of the Country Music Hall of Fame.  

Touring Military Bases

   The Air Force activated Buck during Operation Stair Step, caused by the erection of the Berlin Wall. While stationed in Germany, he organized a band made up of musicians from the Phoenix area. The band toured military bases and post with several Grand Ole Opry acts including Little Jimmie Dickens, Minnie Pearl, Kitty Wells, and George Morgan.

Reata Pass and The Western Gentlemen

   When Buck was de-activated, he returned to Phoenix, Arizona and became part of a group known as The Western Gentlemen consisting of Johnny Dakota  (guitar/vocals),  Slim Forbes  (Fiddle),  and  Buck Coghlan

Roy Orbison, Dave Musgrave, Buck Coglan - Riverside Park Ballroom - Phoenix, Az. - 1960

Riverside Park Ballroom - Phoenix, Arizona - 1960

Roy Orbison, Dave Musgrave, and Buck Coghlan

(bass). The trio performed at The Cavalliere Reata Pass Steakhouse in north Scotsdale for fourteen years. The group’s run ended in 1992 with the deaths of Dakota and Forbes. You can still listen to the group’s CD on the juke box at Greasewood Flat. During these years, Coghlan didn’t limit himself to traditional country music. During the eighty’s he began playing bluegrass, which he became hooked on with a group called the Kin Folk in Cave Creek.

Introduction to Hall of Fame

The Rogue's - Buck Coghlan, Donnie Owens, Johnny Silvers, Art Hawkins, & Bob Taylor - Mirrordor Ballroom - Phoenix, Az. - 1958

   Buck was inducted into the Greater Arizona Country and Western Swing Music Association’s Hall of Fame on August 10th, 2003. The association promotes country music throughout Arizona, conducts country music competitive events and award shows, provides a referral service for musicians and entertainers, and helps “fan” enthusiasm for country and western swing music entertainers. The association is headquartered in central Yavapai County, Arizona.

Buck with Ricky Skaggs
Buck with Slim Whitman

The Rogue’s - The Mirrordor Ballroom - Phoenix Arizona - 1958

Buck Coghlan, Donnie Owens, Johnny Silvers, Art Hawkins,

and Bob Taylor

Lefty Frizell & Buck Coghlan

by Micheal Mullin: I got the chance to meet and set down and talk with Buck at the annual Bob Wells celebration in Turkey, Texas this Year (2011). He is one of the nicest people that I have had the opportunity to meet. Buck and his wife Rhoda bought the old Phillips 66 station in Turkey. He has put a lot of pictures and memorabilia inside the old gas station. When you visit Turkey for Bob Wills day (last weekend in April) be sure to stop by and say Hi to Buck and look at his memorabilia.

Lefty Frizzell with Buck Coghlan playing bass

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