CATCHING UP WITH... MOE BANDY

Moe Bandy turned 60 on February 12, but considering he survived a heart attack just a couple of months earlier, he's still celebrating.

"It was scary," says Moe. "It hit me one night after a show - and I had triple bypass surgery. But I just had a physical and I'm in great health. The doctor said they caught it before it did any damage. I'm just thankful to be here!"

The health crisis hasn't slowed him down one bit - he's recording a new album and still plays more than 200 dates a year at his Branson theater, where he's one of the town's top tourist draws. "They'll have to use a big hook to drag me offstage," says Moe.

Moe, who was born in Mississippi but raised in Texas, started singing as a kid, but later tried his hand at bull riding. "I got hurt pretty good a couple times, so I got back into music," he says.

To make ends meet he worked for a sheet metal company by day and played bars at night - but the grind "almost killed me," he notes.

Moe ditched the day job for good when his debut single, "I Just Started Hatin' Cheatin' Songs Today," cracked the Top 20 in 1974. "I wasn't sure if I could follow it up," he says, "but luckily 'It Was Always So Easy (to Find an Unhappy Woman)' landed in the Top 10. And we followed it up with quite a few after that."

That's an understatement - nearly 30 Top 20s followed! And Moe had even more when he teamed with Louisiana singer Joe Stampley in 1979. Their first single, "Just Good Ol' Boys," went No. 1 and took honors from the CMA and ACM. They hit the charts a half dozen times in as many years. "We're still good friends," he notes, "and we still do a few shows once in a while."

Moe lives in Branson with his wife of five years, local singer Teresa Bowe. He has three children from a previous marriage and four grandchildren - though that number is expected to grow sometime this year. "I just found out my youngest daughter is going to have twins, so I'm going to have six grandchildren!" he says with a huge smile.

Moe's thankful for all the riches his career has brought him - from his loyal fans to his close friendship with former President George Bush, who counts Moe's 1988 hit "Americana" as one of his favorite songs. "You just never know where music is going to lead you," he says. "I feel very blessed."

-- Nick Krewen

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