Bo Wagner Detailed Musician Profile
Some people have wondered whether Dr. Bo, the one currently behind drbo.com is the same person who played the marimba solo in the recording group Starbuck’s hit “Moonlight Feels Right”, the short answer is “Yes”. Dr. Bo Wagner, the natural health practitioner, is the musician playing the marimba solo in the Starbuck video shown below and preserved on YouTube.
While Bo Wagner was an entertainer for many years, he has already moved to other endeavors and now dedicates most of his efforts to running a natural healthcare clinic, which just relocated in March 2016 from Sherman Oaks to Santa Monica, California. Though, recently Starbuck has reunited to play a few concerts.
This article deals mostly with Bo Wagner, the musician, but music is not the only field he has been involved with. He began his artistic and musical career at a very young age, has been a drummer, marimba player, keyboard player, vibes player, singer, recording studio musician for some renowned pop-rock groups. Other talents worth mentioning are tap dancer, acting, dance instructor, choreographer, arranger and record producer.
“Bobby Wagner”, as he was known as a child performer, did his first presentation at the age of five. He was part of a few musical variety shows which used to be aired daily in the afternoon on TV, during the early 1950’s. Besides performing his musical act and tap dancing on television, he also performed in first class hotels and nightclubs from coast to coast, from nightclubs in the Catskills in New York to the Moulin Rouge Showroom in Hollywood and many other major venues from the age of seven to eleven.
Composite Picture Bobby Wagner Child Performer
Several of Bo’s person highlights as a young musician was having the opportunity to play with several famous Big Bands from the forties: Ted Weems Orchestra in New Orleans, Tony Pastor’s Orchestra in Ohio and Pennsylvania and his favorite the Glenn Miller Orchestra, under the direction of Tex Beneke throughout the northeast, playing drums and featured doing his tap dance act.
Bobby Wagner and Ted Weems
Bobby Wagner and Tony Pastor
Original Mickey Mouse Club Period
The Original Mickey Mouse Club was a TV program produced by Bill Wash from 1955 to 1958. It was created by Walt Disney. Its cast consisted mainly of child entertainers and musicians from 9 years of age to early teens. Some regular features of this program included a cartoon, newsreel, short miniseries, musical and tap dancing performances, and comedy skits.
The regular cast, child and teen performers were known as the “Mouseketeers”. The head Mouseketeer was the host Jimmie Dodd. Roy Williams a member of the staff, and also known as the “Mooseketeer”, had the idea that all performers and cast members wore Mickey Mouse ears. The idea was readily accepted and it became a feature of the program. Some notable Mouseketeers of the Original Mickey Mouse Club were Sharon Baird, Darlene Gillespie, Bobby Burgess, and Nancy Abbate.
When Bo Wagner was ten years old, he was already an accomplished tap dancer and drummer. He played the drums and tap danced on the Original Mickey Mouse Club Talent Roundup Day. These special weekly shows which aired on Fridays featured established young performers and upcoming new talent. After his presentation on Original Mickey Mouse Club “Bobby Wagner” was given the title of “Honorary Mouseketeer” and became a lifetime member of the Original Mickey Mouse Club.
Picture of Mouseketeer’s Members in the Year 1957
Bobby Wagner, child musician, playing the drums on the Original Mickey Mouse Club
Bobby Wagner’s Tap Dancing presentation on the Mickey Mouse Club
Lawrence Welk’s Junior Band Period
Later on, Bo Wagner became a member of the Lawrence Welk’s Junior Band. Lawrence Welk 1903-1992 was the host of the long running Lawrence Welk TV Show. This was a conservative musical show targeting older TV viewers. The musical cast was always top quality, Welk’s style proved successful as the show remained on the air for a total of 31 years.
Bo practicing with three other teenage members of the Lawrence Welk Junior Band; Mike Quattro piano, Mouseketeer Cubby O’Brien drums, and Brian Seaman guitar.
Bo Wagner, a young performer entering his teenage years stayed with the Lawrence Welk’s show for three years.
This YouTube video shows Jack Imel, Bo Wagner, and mouseketeer Cubby O’Brien playing the marimba and tap dancing on a musical sketch on the Lawrence Welk’s show.
In the next YouTube video, we can see Bo Wagner playing drums with the Lawrence Welk Show Junior Band
While still being a member of the Welk’s show Bo Wagner formed his own musical band and also toured as a solo artist with other featured members of the Lawrence Welk Orchestra. His group was the first band to perform, and for a long running engagement, at Disneyland’s Tomorrowland.
Picture of Bo on tour with Lawrence Welk, Janet Lennon, Warren Luening, Brian Seaman and Tom Owens.
Bo Wagner's Disneyland Band
When Bo Wagner retired from the Lawrence Welk's show, in his early teens, he took his show band to Nevada and played for years at some of the most famous hotels in Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Reno such as: Caesars Palace, the Tropicana Hotel and Sahara Hotel to name a few. In his late teens and early twenty’s, he became a studio musician, on many studio recordings and major albums and became a permanent house musician with producer Gary Paxton.
Bo with one of his Las Vegas Showbands, Wagner, Hart & Co.
Bo Wagner was also involved with the hit recording group, The 5th Dimension.
He toured with them as their drummer. The 5th Dimension was an American music group formed in 1965; they played different musical genres including jazz, pop, soul, and R&B. Some of their hits include: Stone Soul Picnic, Up, Up and Away, and (Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All.
Lewis and Clarke Expedition Group
Bo Wagner was also a drummer, vibes and marimba player, percussionist and tap danced on “Gypsy Song Man” as a member of the recording group "Lewis and Clarke Expedition". Their singles were Chain Around the Flowers. I Feel Good-I Feel Fine and Daddy’s Plastic Child.
Gypsy Song Man https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUtQKZE7Mec
Daddy’s Plastic Child https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xh1v1tqYnCY
Eternity's Children Period
Eternity's Children was a late 1960's musical group. Bo Wagner became a member of Eternity's Children in 1969. They had a hit single from their first album, “Mrs. Bluebird” and followed with a second single that did well, called “Sunshine Among Us”. A new producer, Gary Paxton was called in for their second album “Timeless”, and Bo Wagner was hired to play drums, vibes, marimba, percussion and also tap dance on one selection “Look Away”, plus Bo wrote all the horn arrangements. In 1969, they released the single "Till I Hear It From You" b/w "I Wanna Be With You".
Till I Hear From You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UEdKKEdYyPE (Wrong Album Cover)
Look Away https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIUMaCHSX34 (Right Album Cover)
I Wanna Be With You https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h4JXtYn6L24 ( Wrong Album Cover)
Liberace, Disneyworld and Roger Williams
After Eternity’s Children disbanded, Bo toured worldwide, mostly though at the Hilton Hotel in Las Vegas, as drummer and percussionist with “Mr. Showman” Liberace for several years and also recorded a number of his albums as a drummer, marimba player and percussionist. Liberace also liked to feature Bo performing some of his other talents like playing spoons and tap dancing on his concerts.
After Liberace, Disney hired Bo once again to perform at the new Disneyworld in Orlando. Bo wore many hats while performing there, almost working 20 hours a day. They had him doing so many different jobs that many nights he had to sleep in the underground dressing room. He played percussion, including marimba, vibes and drums with the world band. Played drums, spoons and tap danced with the Pearly Band, at night played at the top of the Contemporary Hotel backing major acts like Howard Keels and Mel Torme, big concerts, with a full orchestra, backing acts like the Supremes, playing in reviews with the Disney Show Band and doing his musical tap dancing nightclub act at conventions, dancing around the park as the Dick Van Dyke chimney sweep character with Mary Poppins and as a Mouseketeer. Tiring, but lots of fun for Bo. Bo loved the variety. A little bit of everything.
During Bo Wagner’s stint at Disneyworld, he played marimba, vibes and percussion for the concert pianist, Roger Williams, who was most famous for his recording of “Autumn Leaves”. Roger had a big tour coming up at that time, and asked Disneyworld to give Bo a leave of absence to do the tour with him with a small band featuring two marimba players, drums, bass and guitar. The marimbas were a major part of Roger’s sound and performance. Bo played marimba, vibes, congas, bongos, tympani drums and Roger featured Bo to open his second act with his musical, tap dancing nightclub act.
Bo has said it was a great honor to play, record and perform with great artists like Liberace and Roger Williams.
Picture of Roger Williams.
Starbuck Pop Rock Musical Group
This musical group was formed in the city of Atlanta, Georgia in 1974, after Bo Wagner left Disneyworld to do rock and roll once again. Members of this group included Bruce Blackman on keyboards and lead vocals, Bo Wagner vibes, marimba player and percussionist, and later on, Johnny Walker guitarist and vocals, all former members of Eternity’s Children.
"Moonlight Feels Right" was a 1976 Starbuck hit, it reached number three on the US Billboard Hot 100 singles and number one on Cashbox and Record World top 100 single charts. It was also a hit on musical charts worldwide, reaching anywhere from number three to number one on Top Ten Single lists.
This song is usually remembered for Bruce Blackman’s lead vocal and the marimba solo performed by Bo Wagner.
Starbuck played a lot at Disneyland and Disneyworld and when Starbuck first performed at Disneyland, one of the casting directors at the Disney Studios asked Bo Wagner to come out to the studios in Burbank, California, where he grew up, and take pictures with the 2nd incarnation of Mouseketeers with his long hair and beard. With this new group of Mousekteers, it was the first time they started referring to the first group as the original Mousekteers to distinguish between the two different groups of child entertainers.
They were very interesting pictures, especially with a set of mouseketeer ears setting on top of Bo's long hair. Disney used these pictures in articles and ads promoting Starbuck’s performances at Disneyland. It was a great experience for Bo to be back on the Disney set and to see how they were filming the new version of the Mousketeers. They asked Bo to explain to the new Mouseketeers how it was done in the 50’s when he performed on the original show. Over the years, it seems like no matter what type of entertaining he was doing, he always ended back working for Disney in one capacity or another.
This YouTube video shows a Starbuck reunion performing Moonlight Feels Right at Chastain Park Amphitheater with original members Bruce Blackman, Jimmy Cobb (bass), Kenny Crysler (drums), Sloan Hayes (keyboards), David Shaver (keyboards), Tommy Strain (guitar), Bo Wagner (marimba and vibes).
Moonlight Feels Right
Year Released: 1976
Format: LP Album
A1 I Got to Know 3:08
A2 Drop a Little Rock 2:46
A3 Lash LaRue 2:42
A4 The Slower You Go (The Longer It Lasts) 2:44
A5 Moonlight Feels Right 3:38
B1 I'm Crazy 3:12
B2 So the Night Goes 3:00
B3 Working My Heart to the Bone 2:24
B4 Lucky Man 3:30
B5 Bordello Bordeaux 4:30
Rock 'n Roll Rocket
It was released in the year 1977 as long play album (LP), type of music is Pop-Rock. B
List of Songs
A1 Everybody Be Dancin' 3:45
A2 Call Me 3:14
A3 City of the Future 3:24
A4 Fat Boy 3:12
A5 Little Bird 5:15
B1 Sunset Eyes 4:06
B2 A Fool in Line 3:26
B3 Don't You Know How to Love a Lady 3:39
B4 Benny Bought the Big One 3:25
B5 Rock 'n Roll Rocket / Little Bird Reprise 5:10
After Starbuck, Bo arranged, produced and played on 25 albums for Statler Records and Steppin Tone Records. These records were arranged and produced for Dance Olympus, a major US Dance Organization, for dance companies and dance schools worldwide. These albums included music for ballet, tap, jazz, modern dance, aerobics, novelty routines and children work. Bo Wagner hired studio musicians to record the albums and they loved doing these albums because they were mostly instrumentals and the musicians got to play a lot, and do featured solos, instead of just backup tracks for vocal artist. These musicians were the artists plus Bo had the opportunity to do lead vocals on several of the albums, used other top singers on the other vocal tracks and featured his vocal students, mostly young children and teenagers, from his performing arts school on about 7-8 children albums. These albums were fun to do and very rewarding for Bo, the musicians and the vocalists.
Many of Bo Wagner’s students ended up working for Disney’s Parks worldwide, singing, dancing and choreographing. So Bo just passed it on to the next generation. He is very proud of his students and their many successes.