A touring artist’s production has countless moving parts, and it’s up to the members of the road crew — those tireless “roadies” — to keep track of all those parts every mile of the journey. At 90 years old, Ben Dorcy (he was born May 19th, 1925) is the world’s oldest living roadie, having spent an incredible 64 years working with a who’s who of touring musicians and celebrities.
Throughout his career, Dorcy — affectionately known as “Lovey” — has been gardener and chauffeur to John Wayne and toured with Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Patsy Cline, Willie Nelson, Kinky Friedman, Jack Ingram, Jamey Johnson and many others. In 2009, he became the very first inductee into the Roadie Hall of Fame.
Now, as Dorcy enters his 10th decade, a Kickstarter campaign is under way to fund the completion of King of the Roadies, a feature-length documentary directed by Trevor Doyle Nelson and Amy Nelson, the grand-nephew and youngest daughter of the “On the Road Again” singer, who narrates the film. A decade in the making, King of the Roadies not only sheds light on the one-of-a-kind adventures of a dedicated roadie, it also examines what it means to persevere and adapt — and, ultimately, to age — in an unforgiving and ever-changing business.
“I saw some of it and it’s really good,” Willie Nelson tells Rolling Stone of the film. “I’m really proud of Amy and Trevor for doing it. Ben’s my old buddy. We’ve been together for a long time and I’m glad to see him get a little recognition.”
“He has no living relatives, yet he is the patriarch of a family of artists, and fellow roadies who love him dearly,” Amy Nelson says of Dorcy. “They call him ‘Lovey’ and he calls them ‘Lovey’. Despite all odds, he shows up to work on tour after tour after tour. Ben was a part of my family before I was. He met my dad in the Sixties when they were both working for Ray Price. Dad was the bass player; Ben was the roadie. And they became good friends. When Dad’s solo career took off, he took Ben with him.”
He was even onboard the Honeysuckle Rose when cops boarded the bus and busted Nelson for pot. “[He] was over there asleep and I think I told them he was dead,” Nelson tells Rolling Stone with a laugh.
“I appreciate everything that’s being done for me,” adds Dorcy of the film he first encouraged Trevor Doyle Nelson to make when Willie’s grand-nephew was just 16 years old. “It’s a very nice thing to do. And it will be a good movie. When the movie comes out, be sure and watch it. I think everybody will love it.”
The Kickstarter campaign concludes June 20th, 2015. The filmmakers plan to complete production of King of the Roadies this fall and to have Dorcy present, front and center, at the film’s premiere next year.
(Reporting by Patrick Doyle)