Buddy Buie, downtown music fest

From left, Buddy Buie, J.R. Cobb, Rodney Justo, and Paul Hornsby talk about songwriting and the road Saturday, Aug. 20, 2011, during Downtown Music Fest at the Dothan Civic Center.

EUFAULA – The New York Times obituary for Buddy Buie begins with “songwriter and record producer.”

And it should.

To the masses, Buddy Buie is remembered for the hits. His professional songwriting catalog is massive and his guidance of the Classics IV and Atlanta Rhythm Section is lauded in the industry.

Family, however, scantly mentioned Buie’s songwriting and managing prowess in their tribute to him at the First Baptist Church in this lake town where he loved to write.

The songs, really, are for us.

They celebrated the moments that only they experienced.

His son Ben Buie mentioned hiking trips, long car rides and private conversations.

He was the dad who quarterbacked both teams in the front yard when his friends came to play. He planned elaborate Christmas Eve dinners. He took his sons quail hunting. He took stepson Hunter Sheridan to the Fox Theatre to see a closed circuit broadcast of Muhammad Ali vs. Joe Frazier. Hunter rooted for Frazier and Buddy rooted for Ali and the two left with a memory.

It didn’t feel right to call David Michael Zell his great nephew, so he introduced him as his grandson to old friends.

His legacy to most people will be the songs people still sing.

His legacy to his family, Ben said, is a strong sense of optimism, loyalty and trust.

Sheridan, now a business consultant, doesn’t sing “Traces” or “Spooky” to his clients, but he does promote the Buddy Buie philosophy of business: Give your employees freedom to run.

“When I speak to my children and when I speak to my clients, I am speaking what I learned from him,” Sheridan said.

But there is the music.

Google the words “Buddy Buie” and the search engine finishes with a few suggestions. “Buddy Buie songs” is first, followed by “Buddy Buie biography.”

Then, there is “Buddy Buie and J R Cobb.”

He was there Wednesday, helping perform “Traces” and “Moon River”, one of Buie’s favorites. Buie and Cobb collaborated together on countless songs, many of them inside a sweltering mobile home on the lake.

Arnie Geller, who partnered with Buie to create BGO (Buie/Geller Organization) Records, said Buie had “clear visions” when it came to songwriting and producing. Geller said Buie described his style and the style of his groups as “first class Southern music.”

“What stood out to me most about Buddy was his determination to commit to a project and see it through,” Geller said during a eulogy for his business partner.

Geller said he and Buie never had a meaningful dispute, a rarity in the music business.

Buie loved Alabama football, penning a song titled “The Day Bear Bryant Died” just a few years ago.

Wednesday’s memorial service ended with Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” as his family exited the church.

Buie was 74.

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