Bobby Koeffer (born August 18, 1928) is an American Western swing, traditional country, and rockabilly guitarist known for his work with Bob Wills (born James Robert Wills, March 6, 1905—May 13, 1975), Pee Wee King (born Julius Frank Anthony Kuczynski, February 18, 1914—March 7, 2000), and Billy Gray (December 29, 1924—March 27, 1975). He is known for his unique style with showmanship and an assertive stage presence.
He was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame in 2004.
Life and career
Bobby Koeffer was born Robert Koefer on August 18, 1928, in Clay Center City, Kansas. A self-taught guitarist, he was influenced by such Western swing greats as Noel Boggs, Joaquin Murphey, Leon McAuliffe, and others. He impressed crowds and his peers with his chimes and jazz improvisations while using only a thumb pick and a flat bar. His earliest memories of the steel guitar are of Hawaiian players he heard on the radio and his ballads bear the stamp of that influence.
Koeffer's first recordings were with guitarist Sonny Hall on the Dallas-based Bluebonnet label. They recorded a version of an old dirty blues tune, "Operation Blues". He played with Bill Boyd's band "The Cowboy Ramblers" and also landed a gig with a racially-mixed pop combo in Iowa.
In 1950, while working with Tex Justice in Indiana, Koeffer heard about the celebrated Western swing bandleader Bob Wills looking for a steel player to replace Billy Marshall Bowman for his band Bob Wills And His Texas Playboys. Koeffer called Wills and got the job and played on Send Me A Red Rose/Brown Skin Gal (MGM Records). The other musicians on the album were: Ocie Stockard (banjo), Joe Ferguson (bass and vocals), Paul Magee (drums), Joe Holley (fiddle), Sherman "Cotton" Whittington (guitar), and Skeeter Elkin (piano). The following year, he recorded Three Miles South of Cash in Arkansas with Bob Wills, Carolina Cotton, and Cindy Walker.
After leaving Wills' band, Koeffer joined Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys. In 1983, he contributed to Pee Wee King's Rompin' Stompin' Singin' Swingin' alongside Johnny Frigo (fiddle), Donald Stewart Davis (steel guitar), Harold Bradley (electric guitar), Redd Stewart (vocals), and Charles Terry Tichy (electric guitar), among others.
He then worked with Billy Gray & His Western Okies and recorded such classics as "Curtain Call" and "Bandera Shuffle."
In 2000, Koeffer played on 5 tracks (1, 4, 7, 9, 15) of the album Dev'lish Mary by the Western swing trio The Hot Club Of Cowtown (Elana James, or Elana Fremerman, Whit Smith, and Zack Sapunor), alongside Peter Ecklund(cornet) and Don Walser (yodels). The album was produced by Lloyd Maines and mixed by Bobby Arnold for HighTone Records label.
Koeffer also had his own band named Bobby Koefer's Hi-Ho Four and recorded Gotta Rock A Little More/I'll Be The One with vocalist Eddie McAlvain, guitarist Ray Taylor, and Harry Perry on the drums.
Koeffer was inducted into the Steel Guitar Hall Of Fame in 2004.