Multi-instrumentalist and songwriter born Paul Francis Buskirk in Parkersburg, West Virginia, who embarked on his career in the music biz when he was only eleven years old. He went on to serve in the United States Army in the Second World War.
One of his first gigs was with Johnny and Jack. Red Rector was nervous about going onstage at the Grand Old Opry, and Paul filled in for him. Another group he was involved with was Blue Ridge Mountain Folk, an amalgam of The Callahan Brothers and The Coon Creek Girls. They were a bit of a curiosity at the time for their use of electric instruments. As a result, they captured the public’s imagination and became a staple on radio programs in Kansas and Texas. In 1941, they cut several sides for Decca Records.
Other artists and groups with whom he worked include Roy Acuff, Rex Allen, Eddie Arnold, Chet Atkins, Lefty Frizzell, Hank Garland, Sonny James, The Light Crust Dough Boys, The Louvin Brothers, Ray Price, Tex Ritter, and Kitty Wells.
His career and life were inextricably linked with Willie Nelson’s. They performed together in the ‘50s and ‘60s at The Levy Club in Dallas, Texas. Paul is credited with teaching Willie how to play the guitar and purportedly bought one of his songs from him for $50. He also co-wrote “Night Life” with Willie and Walt Breeland, and it became a huge hit for Faron Young.
Paul was busy in the recording studio, as well. He appeared on the Eddie Hill compilation, The Hot Guitar, which featured thirty-four tracks recorded between 1947 and 1957. In the 1950s and 1960s, he featured on records that were popular at square dances. He became a member of The Herb Remington Combo and they concentrated on Hawaiian music until saying aloha in 1971.
Never one to be hemmed in by one playing style, he showed off his jazz chops by playing on and producing Willie Nelson’s 1981 album, Somewhere over the Rainbow. Paul could play virtually any stringed instrument, and once multi-tasked on tenor banjo for Gene Austin even though he had never played it before.
Later in his career, he gravitated to the mandola, a large mandolin, and this was the featured instrument on another Buskirk-Nelson collaboration, The Nacogdoches Waltz, released in 1992. The title comes from the name of the town Paul retired, and eventually died, in. He passed away on 16th March 2002.
In addition to his musical achievements, he was also a master Mason, Scottish Rite and Shriner at The Arabia Temple in Houston, Texas.
Paul Buskirk recordings
A Fisher’s Hornpipe (J. Fishar)
Paul’s Boogie (arr. Paul Buskirk)
Remember Me (Scott Wiseman)
Rustic Dance Schottische (arr. Paul Buskirk)
Here he is playing his double neck mandola/guitar…