Bernarr Busbice was born on September 6th, 1933 in Eros, Louisiana. Busby learned to play mandolin as a child by listening to Bill Monroe on the Grand Ole Opry and playing with his brothers in a local band.
Buzz moved to Washington, DC, as a young man to work briefly for the FBI but soon became involved with bluegrass musicians in the area. During the 50s, his band included Scotty Stoneman, Bill Emerson, Eddie Adcock, Jack Clement, Charlie Waller and Pete Pike, with whom he created a comic duo called Ham And Scram (the Country Gentlemen were a spin-off from one of Busby’s groups). Buzz stayed busy in music during the 50s. He and Scott Stoneman played with Mac Wiseman from 1954-55. Busby had his own daily Hayloft Hoedown on WRC-TV. He and his group, the Bayou Boys, played in Washington, Boston, Shreveport on the Louisiana Hayride and Wheeling, W.V.
He made recordings for the Sheraton and Jiffy labels, gaining local success with “Me And The Jukebox”, Starday’s “Going Home” and Rebel “Mandolin Twist”. Unfortunately, a growing fondness for drugs and alcohol finally landed him with a six-month jail term in 1962.
In the late 60s, Busby formed a band with Leon Morris that recorded for Rounder and Jessup Records, but any further progress was soon halted while he served another prison term.
In the early 80s, he recorded for his brother’s Webco label, backed by the Johnson Mountain Boys, but ill health forced him retire in 1984. Over the next decade, Buzz made a few appearances at important festivals and did limited recording. Buzz’s final recording took place in 1993 with the Patuxent Partners (Patuxent CD-035), which is now out of print.
Considered by many to be the father of DC bluegrass, Buzz Busby died of heart failure in January 2003.
Some of Busby’s records can be purchased at Patuxent Records.