Searching for Bobby Doyle

12 May

A few weeks ago, I watched Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, and Rebel, a documentary about, surprisingly, Hugh Hefner. It was filled with interviews about Hefner’s life and plenty of footage of life at the Playboy Mansion. However, my favorite parts were clips from his television shows – Playboy’s Penthouse and Playboy After Dark. Hefner had some of the best entertainers of the time on these shows, and the documentary highlighted some of the most famous ones. But, there was one I had never heard of.

Bobby Doyle sang the most amazing rendition of “Blowin’ in the Wind” that I have ever heard. He played the piano while wearing dark glasses, and his voice was mesmerizing. As he sang, I kept wondering why I had never heard of him. I also wondered where I could find his version of the song. When the show was over, I went searching for Bobby Doyle.

My first stop, like always, was Google. As is usual, Wikipedia was listed at the top of the page. I clicked it and found a page titled, “Bobby Doyle (jazz vocalist)”. The entry was only two paragraphs long, and it stated that he passed away in 2006. It also said that the Texan performed with “Blood, Sweat and Tears”, and his own group, “The Bobby Doyle Three”. Interestingly, this group included Kenny Rogers, who was just inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. That’s about it. Although, there was a list of recordings that did not include “Blowin’ in the Wind”.

Thinking the page of Kenny Rogers may have more information, I clicked his link. It said that he was a member of “The Bobby Doyle Trio” but didn’t have a link back to Doyle.

Then, I started thinking that there must be an obituary somewhere. I couldn’t find it by Googling Bobby Doyle, so I added singer to my search. There was his obituary in an Austin, Texas newspaper. It chronicled his music career but said that his greatest impact on Austin was a music venue called Ego’s. It also explained the dark glasses when it said that he attended the Texas School for the Blind.

Now, I was beginning to find out who Bobby Doyle was, but it only added to my curiosity. I wanted to know his music, but I also wanted to know him. Obviously, I saw Doyle on the documentary, but there must be other images. Unfortunately, I could only find a few.

There was an old album cover.Bobby Doyle Album

There was “The Bobby Doyle Trio”.Bobby Doyle Trio

However, this was my favorite.bobby Doyle Drawing

Soon, I realized there were not enough images or information on the Internet for someone as talented as him. This is when I went searching for his music. The best place for that had to be the iTunes Store because it has everything. However, it didn’t have much from Bobby Doyle.

A 1950s compilation album had “Pauline”, and another compilation album had “Hot Seat”. Through the Years: A Retrospective covered the career of Kenny Rogers and included a couple of songs from his days with Doyle. This included “Don’t Feel Rained On”, “Fly Me to the Moon”, and “My Mammy”. That’s it. Five songs.

Bobby Doyle, the singer with the great voice, only had five songs on iTunes. There was not a complete album, and there was definitely no version of “Blowin’ in the Wind”.

Next, I went to the other place to find music, YouTube. A couple of videos offered the same songs that were on iTunes, but a few others showed Doyle playing “Sweet Little Angel” and “Kansas City” at an Austin music venue. With that, there had to be the clip that I saw in the documentary. The one where he sang “Blowin’ in the Wind”. It was nowhere to be found.

There was one last stop on my search for Bobby Doyle – the Internet Movie Database. He appeared several times on The Joey Bishop Show and once on Playboy After Dark. He also had a song on the soundtrack of the 1971 movie, Vanishing Point.

At that point, I stopped searching for Bobby Doyle. What did I learn in my search? I learned that there was a great pianist and vocalist from Texas who more people need to hear. I learned that there are talented people out there who gained a bit of fame but faded from memory. I learned that many of those people helped others become really famous. I learned that the Internet does not have all of the information in the world. I learned that the world needs to be reintroduced to Bobby Doyle.

62 Responses to “Searching for Bobby Doyle”

  1. coyotero2112 May 12, 2013 at 04:35 #

    Think of the blind singers he was compared to at the time…Little Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles, and probably others like Doyle who got lost in the mix. Was a musician in Seattle during the grunge hype, and it’s a crap-shoot who gets chosen and who doesn’t. Talent is everywhere in droves, as is mediocrity. Like this a lot. Another few minutes of fame for Doyle.

    • Rick May 12, 2013 at 05:16 #

      Thanks. Living in Nashville, there are talented people everywhere trying to make it. This city probably has the most talented restaurant staffs in the country. It’s amazing to hear someone singing on a street corner who sounds better than the biggest stars.

      • coyotero2112 May 12, 2013 at 15:28 #

        I’ve playd festivals with people from Bo Diddly and Albert King to Soundgarden and Red Dress. I’ve also had broke musicians sleeping on my couch who became millionaires, at least for a moment. The ones who know consider themselves the luckiest people in the world, to be doing what they love to do. Also played on the street for food a few times…like you say, a lot of talent earning a case scattered with change and dollar bills. That’s why I liked your post so much. Be interesting to know how he felt about his unrealized aspirations.

      • Rick May 12, 2013 at 18:56 #

        Thanks for the comment. You’ve lived a most interesting life. I’d love to read more about it.

  2. satanicpanic May 12, 2013 at 05:38 #

    I know that song on the Vanishing Point soundtrack- the girl done got it together- that’s a great song. I saw that movie years and years ago and searched for the soundtrack (this was before the internet) before I finally found it a few years back. It’s got a few names (Kim Carnes, Big Mama Thornton, Mountain) but it’s mostly a bunch of people I’ve never heard of elsewhere. That’s really interesting; I never knew anything about that guy.

    • Rick May 12, 2013 at 05:57 #

      I’ve never seen the movie or heard the soundtrack. It’s sounds like I need to though.

      • satanicpanic May 12, 2013 at 06:16 #

        I highly recommend the soundtrack- it’s a bunch of mostly independent musicians giving an overview of American music at that time. The movie is pretty dated. It’s ok.

  3. hawkswill May 13, 2013 at 13:14 #

    Hi Rick, Found your blog from your comments on a couple of the THREE BAD MEN reviews, so here I am! Loved this and went searching for some of Bobby’s music…..VERY much like one of my favorites……..Ray Charles. Saw my first concert in Atlanta. The Rayettes were on too long, I thought…..but, I had NO IDEA what I was to be privileged to not only HEAR but SEE for the next solid hour and a half……the great High Priest whom I had never heard. INSTANT hero worship. There was NO QUESTION but that he was totally immersed and joyously happy to be playing and singing his music. Many years have gone by, (over 40), and I have heard and watched Ray play with so many others, including my favorite, Willy Nelson, (will soon be writing about my daring meeting with him backstage of the Miami Marine Stadium where he and a helicopter flown in Kris K. did a fantastic perormance). Wouldn’t I have loved to see a duo of Ray and Bobby together! Thanks for introducing me to this man I had never heard mention of.

    Did you ever finish TBM? If you would like to write a review of it, I will post it in my fledgling blog which should grow rather rapidly as my other reviewers get theirs out. You will be in very good company, that I can say. Also, you can review it at If your HTML for your site is not too long, it should stay on the review and you will have a great many new people introduced to your blog….up to YOU to keep them, LOL!

    Thanks again for my intro to Tommy. I will ask some of my older singers and band members if they knew him and have access to any of his music. If so, I will send it on to you. KEITH (Hawks Will)

    • Rick May 14, 2013 at 03:44 #

      Thank you for reading and for commenting. Ray Charles is one of those people who I wish I could have seen. Kristofferson is one of my favorites. I saw him at the Ryman Auditorium several years ago. In fact, he is performing there this week.

      I haven’t finished the book, yet. However, I read a book about the making of The Searchers recently. That was a great one.

  4. John June 23, 2013 at 01:54 #

    I just experienced the same search. Odd. Maybe someone should hassle the person who developed the documentary to post the entire video of Bobby’s performance that night on YouTube. Or, ask his existing family to track it down and do so.

    • Rick June 23, 2013 at 03:11 #

      I thought the same thing. That episode should be easy to find. I would also like to hear more of his music. Thanks for commenting.

  5. Ted Cybulski June 23, 2013 at 02:49 #

    I did the EXACT same thing searching for that song after the Hefner show and found your blog !!

    • Rick June 23, 2013 at 03:12 #

      Thanks for reading and for commenting. Obviously, there are a lot of people wanting to hear more of Bobby Doyle.

      • Tommy Laird July 24, 2013 at 17:34 #

        Interesting that you should post this. I am an old friend of Bobby’s, and his niece and I and a few others (family members) are discussing putting together a memorial video for Bobby. He was a great talent and a complex individual and I miss him sorely. I visited with him a week before he passed away from lung cancer. I had the pleasure of working with Bobby in a couple of different groups back in the 70’s. I first met and worked with Bobby right after his stint with Blood, Sweat and Tears. And there is a tremendous shortage of info about him which I would attribute in part to the fact that it’s only been in recent years that the internet has made such sharing possible. Our intent at this point is to put together a photo collage with music accompaniment. We are in the early stages and trying to piece together what is available. Rest assured that Bobby is gone but not forgotten. A few recent additions to the online Guest Book that started after his funeral is testament to that. If you do not have that link I will be happy to provide it. Bobby never sought out fame and fortune and as far as I can tell accepted his lot in life. He was a dear friend that I will never forget. Our time together was way too short. He lived life hard and fast and was indeed a tremendous talent. He has touched lots of lives of people that will never forget him. Thanks for you work on this posting. I enjoyed it very much myself and will be making sure his family sees it as well.

      • Rick July 24, 2013 at 19:00 #

        Thank you for reading and for passing it along. I would very much like the link. I am honored that a friend of his read this post and appreciated it. From what I have read a heard, he was a great talent.

      • Tommy Laird July 24, 2013 at 19:25 #

        This is a link to the obit.

        Towards the bottom of the article is a “View Guestbook” link to click on. There are 10 pages starting from the time of Bobby’s death (on page 10) until the present. There are a few entries by some people that are posting about another Bobby Doyle, apparently a soccer coach, from another part of the country, by mistake. However, most of the entries are from some of the many friends that new Bobby personally, myself included. Reading through the comments of the guest book gives a small insight into the life of Bobby Doyle. He was the “white” Ray Charles with much more soul than most “white” men could muster up. Being blind from birth, Bobby was truly “color blind” in all aspects of the meaning. A small man by stature, his voice was powerful and commanding and he was a perfectionist at heart. I learned more about playing music from Bobby than I did from all of the other groups and musicians combined that I ever worked with. A compliment from Bobby was a treasure to hold forever. He didn’t hand them out casually. And here is the guest book link as well:

        I am somewhat surprised that people are still posting at this point in time, 7 years after Bob’s passing. A testament to the lives he touched.

      • Rick July 24, 2013 at 20:27 #

        Thank you. It would not surprise you to know how many people search for him and end up here. His name comes up in my Search Terms all the time. There are a lot of people out there interested in his music.

  6. Tommy Laird July 24, 2013 at 18:28 #

    And on a sidenote, Kenny Rogers recent book “Luck or Something Like It” has some good insights into working with Bobby back in the 50’s. Kenny has no problem stating his appreciation for Bobby when it comes to his own personal musical talents and background influences. He states that clearly in the book in an excerpt from his appearance on the David Letterman show many years back. Kenny got his musical foundation from their group which was together about 10 years. Bobby was a force way back then before Kenny had much experience and was a complete unknown. It is an interesting read.

    • Rick July 24, 2013 at 19:02 #

      I will definitely read it. When I was a kid, my parents “drug” me to a Kenny Rogers concert. As it turned out, I liked it.

      • Tommy Laird August 15, 2013 at 03:53 #

        Rick, I have started a Facebook page for Bobby Doyle. One of the links I posted has live recordings that someone has posted on their website. The recordings are of Bobby in the more recent years as far as I can tell and you might enjoy listening to them. And please visit the Facebook page if you are so inclined.

      • Rick August 15, 2013 at 03:58 #

        Thank you very much. I am definitely visiting your page. I don’t have a Facebook account, but my wife does. I’ll use that to get to it.

    • Tommy Laird August 15, 2013 at 16:29 #

      Here is a link you can at least see and hear Bobby playing and singing. Bobby loved the blues, as well as many other styles of music.

      • Rick August 15, 2013 at 17:47 #


  7. rafa August 4, 2013 at 08:03 #

    first of all forgive me cause maybe i can’t write as well as i want, my writing in english it’s not so good as i wish, sorry. the thing is that i felt and did the same like you after watching heffner documentary. i’m in love with music surely since i was born and when suddenly bobby doyle appeared singing blowin’ in the wind… god! i thought what a beautiful version and what a great singer that i’ve never had heard in all my life, amazing. maybe there are a lot of words we can use to say it, but you have chosen one that can be right, “mesmerizing”. so, at this point, my reaction was like yours, trying to find out who was bobby doyle and for heavens sake, where can i find his version of blowin’ in the wind… but the only results are these, and that’s what i’m here. also i have been reading the words of tommy laird and will try to follow your comments and his news about a possible video of bobby biography or so. it’s wonderful to know, when sometimes one can feel just a little bit alone, that all over the world there are people very close to our own feelings. god bless you!

  8. David Gallo December 20, 2013 at 03:26 #

    Just watched the playboy special that I had tape. Felt the same as you did when listening to Bobby Doyle for the first time. He was amazing, singing “blowing’ In The Wind”. If you ever come across that video of him performing at the playboy let know.

    • Rick December 20, 2013 at 03:30 #

      It’s a great rendition. If you look through the comments there is a link of the vinyl of Bobby Doyle singing that song. Thanks for you comment.

      • M Skinner January 26, 2014 at 03:10 #

        Would Playboy not have a recorded version? I too would love to track down the whole version of this song. It’s very powerful.

      • Rick January 26, 2014 at 04:00 #

        That’s what I thought, but I’ve never found it. This song needs to be available.

  9. M Skinner February 13, 2014 at 04:12 #

    Sent to Play Boy customer service today….

    Thank you for your consideration.

    I recently watch “Hugh Hefner, Playboy, Activist, Rebel” and a singer Bobby Doyle sang “Blowing In the Wind”. I am wondering if an entire recording of this song in is available?

    I believe it needs to be released and would be willing to consider purchasing the rights for this recording if needed.

    I understand this is not a magazine inquire but i have no idea how to contact anyone within the Playboy company otherwise.

    Any amount of help you might provide is very much appreciated. Thank you.


    • Rick February 13, 2014 at 05:04 #

      Hopefully, they can help. I would love to have a copy of the song. Please, let me know what happens.

  10. p February 16, 2014 at 09:30 #

    I too am watching the Hugh Hefner documentary right now heard the first half of verse from the blowing in the wind song and went to search for more and I can’t believe in this day in age there’s nothing out there on this song. What the hell. Someone needs to whole Not working..sorry…hold hugh hef down.. & get out of him.

    • Rick February 16, 2014 at 15:04 #

      I can’t believe they haven’t released a collection of songs from that show. A lot of great artists.

      • Melanie July 1, 2014 at 19:53 #

        Hi Rick. I’m hoping you get the email address through this. I’m Bobby’s stepdaughter and one of the three heirs to his music. I would like to discuss this with you, but don’t feel comfortable posting everything here. Please feel free to contact me through the email. Thanks. Also Tommy Laird knows how to contact me, as well.

      • Rick July 1, 2014 at 21:02 #

        Hey Melanie. Thanks for the message. Your email came through, and I will be replying shortly.

      • M Skinner February 18, 2015 at 05:45 #

        Hi Rick. I’m hoping you can contact me through email. Cheers.

  11. Andre Verhage April 26, 2015 at 23:28 #

    This night 27 april 2015, i was watching Hugh Hefner docu through Netflix! And yes i saw the amazing, too short version of Bobby Doyle blowing in the wind! What a amazing voice and great version this is and like you i searching through the internet and youtube and came out on your page! Such a shame that the song can’ t be found elsewhere!
    I hope it soon will!

    Andre Verhage

    • Rick April 26, 2015 at 23:34 #

      I hope it will, as well. This post has brought response from all over the world. I have heard from those who, like myself, watched the documentary, and I have heard from those who knew Bobby.

      Thank you for reading my post and for commenting.

  12. Braam July 22, 2015 at 00:28 #

    I had the same experience. Watched the documentary. Was blown away by the song. Can’t find it anywhere.

    • Rick July 22, 2015 at 02:55 #

      Hopefully, it will be made available at some point. Writing this post led me to some people who knew Bobby. They think it might happen. Thanks for reading and for commenting.

  13. Tom Malloy April 19, 2018 at 15:00 #

    I am always late. It’s five years later and I just found this. I met Bobby Doyle through a friend when I was in college. He was playing local clubs in Houston with drummer Don Russel and bass, Kenny Rogers as the Bobby Doyle Three. Bobby played the piano and sang. Bobby, who was born blind, could play any instrument. We took our dates to where ever they were playing for three or four years. I was invited and went to Bobby’s bachelor party.
    One of the last times I saw him, the group played at the Ski Club on Richmond Ave and at the end of the evening packed up and headed to Las Vegas to play one of the lounges. I particularly remember Kenny Rogers’ Caddilac pulling a trailer.
    I lost touch with Bobby after that, but saw him on the Joey Bishop show in the late 60s. Kenny went on to the New Christy Minstrels, the First Edition and then broke through with Lucille in 1977.
    After years away from Texas, We came back. The friend who had introduce ced me to Bobby didn’ know where he was. It wasn’t until 2006 that I thought to search on the Internet. I found a listing where Bobby was playing in Austin. I was anxiuos to take my wife to meet him. She had heard me talk about him for many years. When we got there, the said Bobby was not there, he was I’ll. I managed to get a phone number. Bobby’s niece answered. He was in the hospital. I left a message, but Bobby never made it out of the hospital. It broke my heart.
    Now, I’m five years late seeing this post. Oh well.

    • Rick April 19, 2018 at 17:21 #

      Thank you for reading the post and taking the time to comment. Since I wrote the post, I have spoken with an old friend of Bobby and a member of his family. I wish more of his music was available because he was a talent that more people should know about. Recently, my wife and I attended a tribute concert for Kenny Rogers. They showed a picture of Bobby, but Kenny did not mention him as I had hoped. However, it did not seem that Kenny was doing well, either.

      If you have more storied I would love to hear them.

      • Tom Malloy April 19, 2018 at 18:17 #

        One story I loved was posted on his obit. Bobby was going to a recording session as a studio musician with people who had not met him. When he walked in on the arm of another person, all talk stopped. After an awkward silence, Bobby starts patting the piano and says loudly”OK!. Who hid my sheet music?”. The room dissolved in laughter and the session got off the ground.
        Kenny Rogers, in the past, has paid tribute to Bobby as one of the best musicians he has ever known.
        Kenny just cancelled the remainder of his farewell tour due to health problems. I guess we’re all getting old.

      • Rick April 20, 2018 at 01:38 #

        That is a great story.

    • Thomas Laird April 19, 2018 at 19:31 #

      Don Russel has recently passed away now also, so Kenny is all that remains of the trio. I miss my friend. Can still hear him laughing.

      • Melanie April 20, 2018 at 13:31 #

        Tom, I’m Bobby’s daughter. I have some of his music that I would gladly copy for you.

      • Tom Malloy April 20, 2018 at 16:46 #

        That would be wonderful! Since I saw this post, memories have come rushing back. I remember a number of afternoons sitting around the Saxony Club in Houston listening to Bobby, Don and Kenny rehearse. I only heard him play the electric guitar a few times, but he was great!
        I remember being at his house ( I think he was living with his mother) and noticing that there were no lamps or light fixtures in the room (duh).
        I’d love to have some of his music. What do I need to send you?
        Tom Malloy

      • Melanie April 20, 2018 at 17:14 #

        I would need your mailing address. Can you see my email address on this form?

      • Tom Malloy April 20, 2018 at 19:04 #

        I cannot see your email

      • Melanie April 20, 2018 at 21:13 #

        Can you give me your email address on here?

      • Tom Malloy April 20, 2018 at 23:03 #

        I hate to post it here where it will stay forever. Are you on Facebook? I’d rather use Messenger through Facebook to give you my email since not everyone can see it. I’m the Tom Malloy on Facebook at the University of Houston. If that doesn’t work we can find another way.

      • Melanie April 21, 2018 at 00:09 #

        I’ll check it out tomorrow. Thanks.

      • Tom Malloy April 21, 2018 at 00:26 #

        I figured another way. Send me an email at

      • Thomas Malloy April 20, 2018 at 19:27 #

        Sent from Mail for Windows 10

      • Thomas Malloy April 20, 2018 at 19:29 #

        Melanie, Are you on Facebook? Perhaps we could use Messenger. I’m the Tom Malloy at the University of Houston.

        Sent from Mail for Windows 10


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