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Author Topic: "Almost Willie" in Gila Bend  (Read 1857 times)

Bob Buchanan

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"Almost Willie" in Gila Bend
« on: April 05, 2006, 08:42:13 PM »
Am in Gila Bend getting more training with Starband Internet dish installs at RV SAT LINK. A few days ago I spotted "Almost Willie" in the truck stop parking lot a few hundred feet or so from my current spot.
 
When I first saw him I thought it "was" Willie, but it turned out to be his number one rated impersonator. He's been doing this for about 10 years and travels around in an old RV (and now a bus conversion without a clutch) doing 15 minute to 2 hour concerts in RV parks, city and county events, rest homes, and various schools. He does up to 40 Willie tunes. Along with performing, he does motivational talks to kids at various schools. He has been offered gigs at the look alike shows in LV, Branson, and other "show" towns, but prefers wending along on his own. He makes a lot less money this way -- but doesn't want to do 6 days a week, 2 shows a day. The real Willie called him about a year ago and invited him to his ranch.  He said Willie was very gracious and spent the entire day with him -- plus shared a round of golf.
 
I have made arrangements to get fresh water to him and electric so he can be more comfortable while waiting for help. I also take him into town as needed do his food and such shopping. A buddy from Texas was supposed to come and help him -- but has not been heard of since 5 days ago. Another friend may make it down from Oklahoma. Also, we found another bus owner at an RV park in Gila Bend that is coming out tomorrow to see if he can get him going.
 
Almost Willie has also suggested a career change for me. 8)  When he noticed my resemblance to Kenny Rogers, he was taken -- but when hearing my voice, told me I could really do well as an Kenny Rogers impersonator.Though I will be sticking to programming RV park software and Starband high speed Internet installs, it has been fun to share some time with Almost Willie.  One can quickly tell that he is a good person.  Here is his Web Site. I guess he just got a new person to do this for him so some of the pages are still under construction.
 
http://www.almostwillie.com
 
And attached is a pic of Almost Willie and Less than Almost Kenny. Not a great shot, but I'll try to take a few more before he leaves.
 
« Last Edit: April 06, 2006, 01:24:37 AM by Bob Buchanan »
Bob (fulltimer - Rocklin, CA residency)
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JerArdra

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Re: "Almost Willie" in Gila Bend
« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2006, 02:41:34 PM »
ALL,

Here's one story about Bob for the forum.  Once, many years ago, Bob and his friend Fred were in the Boomtown casino in Reno and Bob was playing Craps.  First, mind you, Fred is a tall big guy which helps this story.  On this occasion Bob DID have his hair and beard trimmed perfectly to look like Kenny Rogers and, believe me, I have known Bob for 30+ years and he can look exactly Kenny!  He can be a spitting image of him.

Well, this one lady finally started asking if he was Kenny Rogers and, of course Bob said no.  Fred pushed in a little closer like a good bodyguard would do to stifle the conversation but she kept insisting.  The other Craps players were in on the conversation so after a while everyone wondered.  This went on and on while Bob played Craps.

Well...finally Fred said, in firm a low voice, "come on Kenny we've got to go."

This kind of interrupted the Craps game while the lady said, "See I told you he is Kenny Rogers."  And, with that, Bob and Fred wondered off into the sunset with everyone at the Crap table convinced he actually was Kenny Rogers.

Maybe if you ask Bob nicely he will tell you some other storeys about Robert "AKA Kenny Rogers" Buchanan or even enhance this story.

Your friend Jerry FitzGerald
« Last Edit: April 06, 2006, 02:43:36 PM by JerArdra »
JerryF  ;D  ;D

JGarrick

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Re: "Almost Willie" in Gila Bend
« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2006, 05:35:34 PM »
Once you imagine the right beard on "Kenny" those are two dead ringers for the real deals.

Bob Zambenini

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Re: "Almost Willie" in Gila Bend
« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2006, 08:11:59 PM »
Bob, you have the best of all worlds. After you get a few more wrinkles you can switch to the Ernest Hemmingway look alike contest. :) :) :)

That would not be bad because you would not have to sing, just drink a lot of booze and look potted!

I had a friend who did well in those Ernest Hemmingway contests and it was always an excuse to go down to Key West and drink a lot. He did get on TV once.

Bob

Bob Buchanan

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Re: "Almost Willie" in Gila Bend
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2006, 01:57:33 AM »

Maybe if you ask Bob nicely he will tell you some other storeys about Robert "AKA Kenny Rogers" Buchanan or even enhance this story.

Your friend Jerry FitzGerald

Hey Jerry -- you still remember that story. Great!!   :) There "was" a period when we looked so much alike it was spooky. Even my Mother commented on it all the time. Only with her, Kenny looked like me vs. me like him. Almost Willie tells me that a lot of folk look like other folk, but few sound just like that other person and those are the ones that make the bucks.

When the drunks mistook me for Kenny, I was always taken back a bit -- but when a totally sober person thought I actually was him, it made me feel a bit weird and not knowing just how to respond. As was the case you posted. She actually thought I was him up front. She was wagering beside me, and one of her girl friends was standing behind the dealer and pit boss looking over the table at both of us. They were obviously communicating w/each other and were verifying with their look gestures that I was Kenny because when I cashed in my chips and began to walk away from the table, she came up to me and began telling me what a huge fan she was and that she had followed me all the way back to my recordings with the 1st Edition (that was in the mid '60's when he did Lucille and Ruby).

It was such a strange feeling and my first impulse was always to tell them I was not Kenny. The only times I purposely trimmed my beard and dressed the part was when my neighbors kids in Sacto talked me into entering a huge celebrity look alike contest at the downtown Crest theater on "J" street. The audience was blown away when I was interviewed on stage and heard my voice. Remember the Seminars we did for DOE at the old Aladdin. The entire staff there did a Kenny Rogers thing on me -- and had me dress the part when I did some of my presentations. One time over the PA system, I heard a message could Kenny Rogers please come to the business offices.

As you mentioned, that night I was with my good friend Fred. Sometimes I would be with both Fred and his older brother George. Fred is around 240 and George about 15 pounds heavier. They both really got a kick out of doing the bodyguard thing. One night at Cal Neva in Reno as we were going to dinner, a semi drunk came running up to me yelling, "OhMyGod, It's Kenny Rogers"-- and they immediately stepped in front of me, crossed their arms over their chest and sternly stared at him. The poor guy was really shook, and began apologizing to Mr. Rogers. And again, as with the lady you mentioned, they pulled me away before I could explain that I was only an old programmer from Sacramento. :) At the crap table thing, the crap dealers knew me and got into the act as well. When Fred pulled me away -- the pit boss yelled over, "Kenny, be sure and come back to our table after your next show".

Jerry, thanks for remembering one of my many Kenny look a like stories.

Am hoping to see you and Ardra before you leave for Moab.
Bob (fulltimer - Rocklin, CA residency)
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Bob Buchanan

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Re: "Almost Willie" in Gila Bend
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2006, 02:18:19 AM »
Once you imagine the right beard on "Kenny" those are two dead ringers for the real deals.

Hi JGarrick:

Seeing Kenny lately he has cut his beard and does a goatee now -- plus his hair is getting thin in the front and he cuts it much shorter now. Check out this latest pic (be sure to have your sound turned on):

http://www.kennyrogers.com

In chats with Almost Willy, he said the audiences want to see their look a likes the way they were in the prime of their careers vs. the way they look now. Of course, the real Willie has not changed much at all over the years. And Almost Willie dresses the part and IS Willie all the time.

His rig is broken down here were I'm parked and that is across the street from the Shell truck stop just off the 8 freeway. These truckers are real Willie fans and come visit Almost Willie all day long. They get their picture taken with him, get an autographed pic of him and love to just BS with him. Yesterday a young trucker from Washington apologized to him that he was going the wrong way to help out. He told him that if he was going East, he would transport his bus to Bandera for him. He then handed him a $20 and thanked him for his picture.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2006, 02:39:48 AM by Bob Buchanan »
Bob (fulltimer - Rocklin, CA residency)
Current Location
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