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. In January 2016, Livingston was inducted into the "Texas Music Legends Hall of Fame.
Livingston 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 Livingston'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. Livingston'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, Livingston 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, Livingston 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) (co-written with Gary P. Nunn), "Head Full of Nothin'" (co-written with Rick Fowler), 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" co-written with Lane Bybee (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.
Livingston'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. 2014 saw two recordings of Livingston's song "On A Dream With You" by Texas artists, Walt and Tina Wilkins, on their new "Be Mine" CD and by beloved Texas turned Santa Fe singer/song stylist, Bill Hearne, on his latest CD, "All That's Real."
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, guitarist and composer, Tucker Livingston. 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, Livingston 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. Livingston's latest CD is Up The Flatland Stairs, a collection of songs for "Howlin' Dog Records" to be released in the spring of 2017.
Livingston as Author
Bob Livingston is currently writing a book for Texas Tech University Press about his life and travels through the lens of his music career. Expected publishing date, 2018.
- Waking Up (Wilderness); 1981
- Signs of Life (Wilderness); 1988
- Open the Window (Gentle Wind); 1996
- Mahatma Gandhi & Sitting Bull (Vireo); 2003
- Everything Is All Right (TMI); 2004
- Cowboys & Indians (Vireo); 2007
- Original Spirit (Vireo); 2008
- Gypsy Alibi (New Wilderness Records); 2011
- Bob Livingston at the Kerrville Folk Festival (FestivaLink); 2011
- Up The Flatland Stairs (Howlin' Dog Records); 2017
With The Lost Gonzo Band
- The Lost Gonzo Band (MCA); 1972
- Thrills (MCA); 1976
- Signs of Life (Capitol); 1978
- Rendezvous (Vireo); 1991
- Hands of Time (Vireo); 1995
- Dead Armadillos (Demon/Edsel); 1998
With Jerry Jeff Walker
- Jerry Jeff Walker (MCA); 1972
- Viva Terlingua! (MCA); 1973
- Walker’s Collectibles (MCA); 1974
- Ridin’ High (MCA); 1975
- It’s a Good Night for Singin’ (MCA); 1976
- A Man Must Carry On (MCA); 1977
- Great Gonzos (MCA); 1991
- Gypsey Songman (Tried ‘n True); 1986
- Navaho Rug (Rycodisk); 1991
- Hill Country Rain (Rycodisk); 1992
- Viva Luckenbach (Rycodisk); 1993
- Christmas Gonzo Style (Rycodisk); 1994
- Night After Night (Tried ‘n True); 1995
- Scamp (Tried ‘n True); 1996
- Cowboy Boots and Bathing Suits (Tried ‘n True); 1997
- Lone Wolf: The Best of Jerry Jeff Walker (1998)
- Gypsy Songman (Tried ‘n True); 1999
- Gonzo Stew (Tried ‘n True); 2001
- Too Old to Change (Tried ' True) 2003
- It's A Good Night For Singin' & Contrary To Ordinary Plus (Raven); 2013
With Michael Martin Murphey
- Geronimo’s Cadillac (A&M); 1972
- Cosmic Cowboy Souvenir (A&M); 1973
With Ray Wylie Hubbard
- Something About the Night (Renegade); 1979
- Loco ****s Lament (1994)
With Bobby Bridger
- Seekers of the Fleece (Golden Egg); 1975
- Ballad of the West (Golden Egg); 2001
- Complete Works (Golden Egg); 2004
With Steven Fromholtz
- Steven Fromholtz (Capitol); 1977
- Frommox II 1982
With Bill Oliver
- Texas Oasis 1980 (Live Oak)
- Better Things to Do 1986 (Live Oak)
- Audubon Adventures 1987 (Live Oak)
- Have to Have a Habitat 1995 (Live Oak)
- Friend of the River 2001 (Live Oak)
With Butch Hancock
- Yella Rose (with Marce Lacouture) 1985 (Rainlight)
- Own & Own (1989)
- Own the Way Over Here (1993)
With Terry Allen
- The Moral Minority (Fate); 1995
With Pat Green
- Three Days (Universal); 2001
- Carry On (2001)
With Gary P. Nunn
- Under My Hat (1996)
- Peter Caulton: Hard Road Tough Country (1998)
- Cory Morrow: Outside the Lines (2002)
- Mark David Manders: Highs and Lows (2002)
- Owen Temple: General Store (1997)
- Owen Temple: Two Thousand Miles (2007)
- Larry Joe Taylor: Heart of the Matter (2000)
- Various Artists Kerrville Folk Festival: Early Years 1972-1981
- Various Artists: Stranger Than Fiction (1999)
- Chris Wall: Cowboy Nation (1999)
- Susan Herndon "All Fall Down" (2012)