If ya’ll have not read Growing Up with Roy and Dale by Roy “Dusty” Rogers, Jr. you need to. It’s a great book. Although Dusty shares some of the sad times in the Rogers’ family, he focuses more on the happy side of life. He and Sandy had such great times together! He tells about having dirt clod wars with Rex Allen’s boys, his first reaction to Sandy and how they became the best of friends, and so much more. One of my favorite stories is about how Dusty ended up writing “King of the Cowboys”:
“On the radio one day, I heard a song about John Wayne. How sad, I thought, to write a song for somebody after he’s gone and can’t appreciate it. Why can’t Dad have a song of his own, right now? I tried, but I couldn’t seem to make it work, so I went to Larry Carney, who is my bass player [in Dusty’s band, the High Riders].
‘I’ve got some of the words, Larry,’ I explained, ‘but I need a better hook. Dad’s a living legend. People love him, and they know his trademarks. let’s write a song that focuses on his horse and his hat and so on, but doesn’t mention his name.’
Larry worked on it, and it sounded great to me. For a week before the concert, I was all nerves, but I told Mom I wanted Dad to be there. the night of the performance 400 people cam, and I couldn’t bring myself to talk to my parents. I saw them in the audience, and when we finished the Pioneer Medley, I stepped up to the microphone.
‘Ladies and gentlemen,’ I said, ‘I have a song I’d like to share with you. It’s never been sung in public before and I’d like to dedicate it to my dad.’
The song talks about the king and gentle living legend that he touched our lives for more that 40 years:
And I know forever,
In many hearts he’ll reign
As the King of the Cowboys,
There is honor to his name.
I’ve never had a tougher time singing. Every time I looked at Dad, he was teary, and when I finished, the entire audience was on its feet. The applause was like thunder.
‘Dad, this is for you. They really love you,’ I said. ‘I really love you, too.’
Finally he stood up. The applause went on for a full five minutes. I watched him as he nodded shyly at the people who were celebrating him, and inside, I celebrated, too.”
Dusty’s open and honest way of sharing the tales of his childhood make this book enchanting and irresistible. It’s one of those books that you’ll pick up for a few minutes, and then put it down hours later when you’ve finished it. I hope you’ll check it out.