Big Bob Dougherty

Big Bob Dougherty on Golden CrestThe sleeve of the above LP (Golden Crest LP CRSP 1000) carries what was supposed to be the only known photograph of Leavenworth KS R’n’B saxophonist Big Bob Dougherty, who was active in Leavenworth and Kansas City in the fifties and early sixties. Not much was known about Big Bob’s career after he had a small hit with “Big Bob’s Boogie” on Decca in 1952.

Last autumn though I went down to the Otto Flückiger archives where i found a file containing several letters from Otto to Big Bob and vice versa and some gorgeous photographs. This and some old newspaper clippings allowed me to write the “Big Bob Dougherty Story”. Unfortunately I cannot tell much more now, since I have to wait until Big Bob’s story will be published in “Blues & Rhythm” magazine sometime in summer 2011. Sometime after that, I will put the whole story up on the web. But to give you a little taste, here’s Big Bob playing and singing “Hot Foot” in 1959 or 1960, a track also featured on the above LP.

Hot Foot

28 Responses to “Big Bob Dougherty”

  1. David Chase Says:

    Wow, DJCP! “Uncle” Bob is my great uncle and is the reason I learned to play the sax. Cannot wait to see the full post! Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. Jim Otto Berg Says:

    I loved to listen to BB at a club in KC (have forgot the name) in ’56 to ’58 when I was a student at Kansas State. He was great and did a super job on “going to kansas city”. Thanks for the great memory.
    Jim Otto Berg

  3. Louise Taraba Says:

    In the 60s Big Bob and his band entertained at a club called
    “Jodie’s” in Kansas City. Perhaps he was also there in the 50s.
    My friends and I went to Jodie’s every chance we could. The
    music was wonderful. Thanks for the fond memories.

  4. Larry Schreiber Says:

    Big Bob’s family lived about 3 houses from my cousins in Leavenworth. We played with his boys, when we were boys. I can remember his music but best of all is that he raised a great family and was a great family man.

    • Angela Garrott Says:

      Big Bob Dougherty, who was my great uncle, never had children. He did however, have a nephew, Bob Dougherty, who played the drums. His nephew was my dad who passed away in May 2005. My dad did play quite often with his Uncle Big Bob of KC. Just wanted to set the record straight:)

      • Larry Schreiber Says:

        Thanks for commenting. I know that my memory is not that great but do I recall that one of Bob’s brother’s boys played drums too. I am thinking that Lonnie was Bob’s brother.

      • @Larry
        Alonzo “Lonnie” Dougherty was Big Bob’s brother, but he played bass (not drums) in Big Bob’s early 1950s band (he also sang).

      • Dear Angela

        Could you have at look at this photo here:

        … and tell me if the man in the middle is your father?

        And if it’s not, do you perhaps know, who this man is? The man on the left is Big Bob Dougherty’s piano player, Rudy Massingale.

        It would be very nice, if you could help me there.

  5. Michael T. Lynch Says:

    Spent many a happy night in the mid-1950s at the Towne Hall Ballroom on Troost where Big Bob held forth at something called “Jazznocracy” a couple of nights a week. Unusual for the day, blacks, Southside whites and Latinos all were there, dancin’ their hearts out. They didn’t sell booze, but you could buy a “set up” (something to mix with) and everyone had a flask. We white boys picked up some cool steps. Bob was a hell of a showman. Would sometimes get a solo going and end it lying on his back on the stage with one leg in the air. He covered all the great jump tunes of the day like Castle Rock and All Night Long – originals by Rusty Bryant. Also had some Julia Lee-type “novelty” numbers. I remember one called, Take it Out. Lyrics went, “Ohhhh, take it out take it out, ohhhh take it out. ” Just when it got real erotic, the next line was, “The little black cat with the two white stripes.”

    Feel very lucky to have seen Bob in his prime. Such a great era. How many kids got to have people like Jay McShann play their high school dances. For a music lover, Kansas City was a magic place at a magic time. Jimmy Smith was the regular at Blue Monday every week at the lounge in the Street Hotel at 18th & The Paseo just a couple of blocks from the Orchid Room where all the greats of the day performed.

  6. Wow, everybody – thanks for sharing some of these memories! Michael, what a hoot to picture (great) Uncle Bob on stage blowing on his back with a leg up in the air!

    My grandma (his sister) is going to get a kick out of these!

  7. Larry Schreiber Says:

    They say music, good food and good people bring us together. After reading these comments, I believe it. What happened to two of Bob’s sons, Lonnie and Bob, Jr.?

    • Definitely, Larry. I noticed your comments about his sons and am wondering if you are referencing his nephews. Uncle Bob and Aunt Orvaleen, to my knowledge, never had children. His brother Lonnie had 4 sons, Alonzo Jr. (Brigadier General, nat’l guard), Robert (whom I believe was named for Uncle Bob), William, and Francis. Robert passed in 2005. The remaining brothers all still reside in Leavenworth.
      They were close with my father (David Sr., who also passed in 2005) and his 6 brothers and sisters.
      I know Uncle Bob was close to all his nieces and nephews. He traveled from Leavenworth to Omaha to see my father shortly after I was born there!

      • Larry Schreiber Says:

        Cool to converse after many years. My memory has faded over time but never was that good. You are correct as you know. Somehow I believe got mixed up because if my memory is not too bad I remember Big Bob playing/practicing at Lonnies. One of Lonnies sons took up drums. Nice to read your comments and love this reconnecting. Seems like only yesterday we played in the alley on Ottawa.

      • It’s very nice to see you all talking about Big Bob Dougherty here! The reason that the Big Bob story has not been published yet is that I never find the time. But will put up some more of Big Bob’s music here some time soon – nice to stir up some memories.

  8. Lisa M. Dougherty Says:

    Wow really cool to see this information about my great uncle Bob!!! Lisa Dougherty

  9. In the summer of 1959 I was in Memphis recording with Sam Phillips producing. Big Bob and I became friends and I remembered him as one of the nicest guys I ever worked with. I was a white teenager from a small Iowa farm town and it was refreshing to have a guy like Bob around. Cool guy who was a great talent. I used to hang out in KC quite a bit, so we kept in touch for awhile.

    Layton Zbornik (I went by Jerry Martin in the 50s.) Bob did a nice sax break on my record “Gee, I Miss You.”

    • Dear Layton

      That’s very interesting! I knew that Big Bob accompanied Frank “Shake a-Plenty” Frazier and Zig Dillon for Sam Phillip’s “R” Label, but I did not know about your records.

      I see from Bob McGraths book “The R’n’B Indies” that you had three (four) 45 rpms on “R”:

      “R” 504: Hold My Hand / Gee, I Miss You (rereleased as “R” 518)
      “R” 507: Young Boy’s Love / Lover’s Promise
      “R” 510: Deep In My Heart / Sweetheart

      Do you remember if all these six tracks were recorded at the same session? And is Big Bob only on “Gee, I Miss You” or also on (some of) the other tracks? Do you remember any of the other musicians involved in your records for “R”?

      It would be very nice if you could help me there, as I am trying to note down all the records Big Bob Dougherty played on.

      And one more question: You write that you recorded with Phillips in summer of 1959. May this possibly have been in summer 1960? I take it from Billboard magazine that your first “R” record was probably released in july/august 1960.

      Right now I will try to acquire the “Gee I Miss You” 45, this really is great news! Thanks again!

      • Hi…

        Bob was on both “Hold My Hand” and “Gee I miss You.” He was featured on “Gee.” I’m pretty sure it was 1959, but I could be wrong.

        The other “R” cuts were recorded at Chess studios in Chicago. I worked with Sonny Thompson on those.

        On the Memphis cuts I had Scotty Moore and D.J. Fontana from Elvis’ band.

        I remember Big Bob as a real gentleman with a goodly amount of class. For the time we spent in Memphis Bob sort of took me under his wing. There were a couple of racial situations that he helped explain to me. He was a good guy..

        Layton Zbornik (Jerry Martin)

  10. just me again. Do you have any copies of my stuff? If not send my a mailing address and I’d send you a CD with Big Bob on it.

    Layton Zbornik

    • Hi, Layton

      I indeed just acquired a copy of “Hold My Hand” /“Gee I miss You” on ebay. I’d like to present it here soon, if you do not mind. I suspected that Scotty Moore was on these records as an old Billboard article suggested that. The participation of DJ Fontana was news to me – and what great news! Do you perhaps also remember who played bass on that session?



  11. F. Patrick Dougherty Says:

    I am the youngest son of my Uncle Bob’s brother Lonnie Dougherty Sr. My name is Pat Dougherty, and I have four older borthers, Lonnie Jr., Bob (Robert Mathew), and Bill Dougherty. When living in the Wash., D.C. area, my Uncle Bob enjoyed visiting with my family and I, when he would complete his day at the National Mayors Conference. He traveled to DC at least once a year when he was Mayor of Leavenworth, Kansas. I am very interested as to how I can come about some recordings of Big Bob Dougherty’s Band, which my Father, Lonnie Sr. (Alonzo David Dougherty Sr.) was instrumental (no pun intended) in. Great memories of my Dad, Unlce Bob and others practicing and jamming in the Living Room of our Home on Ottawa Street, in Leavenworth, Kansas. This is where my Dad raised his four boys, on his own, not married, and subjected to many hardships because of his race, and the popularity of the Dougherty family, a Black American Family, raised in the predominant White, Catholic Faith.

    If this sounds like a Movie and/or a Novel, I think it deserve being told, in the spirit of our American Culture, and how our culture, although still not perfect, has progressed. This story would include much of the history of a Catholic Order of Minoirty Sisters, know as the Oblate Sisters Of Providence, still headquartered on Gun Road, in Baltimore, Maryland.

    Thanks for this media link to express just a little of the heritage of the Dougherty Family of Leavenworth, Kansas. I do hope to share and expand my knowledge of our family history, by hearing from sources that could help our family explore its history.

    F. Patrick Dougherty

    • Dear Patrick.

      Could you please send me a mail: dj (at)

      I have music of your uncle and your father for you and would like to know more about your family.


    • Larry Schreiber Says:

      I recall the jamming at Lonnie’s house on Ottawa. My cousins lived two or three houses West on Ottawa on the same side of the street. My cousins, two boys, my brother and myself each one year apart played with Lonnie’s boys in the alley behind the houses.

  12. Terry Barnes Says:

    Used to hear him in the late 60s at the Castaways at 45& Main in K.C. Great sax.

  13. Sam Nigro,MD Says:

    As high schoolers in the 50s, we loved him at the Zombie Club at 103 and State LIne in Kansas City…and at other places…what a great sax man…he taught us how to love music and dance…it was “BLOW, BOB, BLOW” over and over….God love him and his band.

    • robert chase Says:

      Thanks, from our family, my name is Robert chase, son of matilda rose (Dougherty) chase, Big Bob’s younger sister. Uncle bob’s , uncle lon’s, and my mom’s , youngest sister Rita (Dougherty) Duckworth has a son (our cousin) named Alvester Duckworth jr. who played with his uncle bob , and Robert matthew(cousin), and also has a K.C. band of his own called Bloodstone.

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