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How Doyle Grisham Teamed up with Jimmy Buffett

doyle grisham

Photo  courtesy Ron Horne.
Doyle Grisham is the steel guitar player in Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefer Band.

While waiting to board my last flight to Key West, land of Meeting of the Minds, I noticed a well-known face standing near me in line. There aren’t too many shy bones in my body, so I promptly introduced myself to Doyle Grisham, steel guitar player for Jimmy Buffett’s band. I told Doyle that I lived in Texas and he quickly told me he was from Temple, Texas. Fellow native Texans! He was gracious to grant me an interview while in Key West.

Doyle told me he started playing not steel guitar, but electric guitar and played in “beer joints” in the Temple and Waco area. He even played Melody Ranch, which was where you went to two-step during my college years in Waco. By age twenty or so, however, a new country sound was emerging, which featured pedal steel. Doyle switched instruments and told me it was the best move he every made.

So how did Doyle team up with Jimmy Buffett? Well, they didn’t run in the same music circles, exactly. It was the early 70s and Doyle was playing “Grand Ole Opry” types of venues and music and Buffett was… well, being Buffett! Doyle had been in Nashville for some time now, and was a popular steel guitar player for hire in recording studios. He happened to be in a recording session with a band recording a little known song called “Tin Cup Chalice.” Jimmy, the composer, of course, showed up at the studio and met Doyle. The next four albums Buffett recorded had Doyle playing pedal steel and Jimmy called Doyle occasionally from 1977 to 1999 to help on recordings.


Doyle presenting at the 2015 Trop Rock Music Awards in Key West.

In 1999, Doyle helped record “Beach House on the Moon” and Jimmy was heard to say “I’ll have Doyle touring with me soon.” Well, that’s indeed what happened. If you follow Buffett’s tour schedule, it may seem as if they play all the time, but in fact, they tour only about one third of each year. When the band isn’t on the road, Doyle is busy in his home recording studio. He records tracks for many Trop Rock musicians to add to their recordings and he also works in the publishing area of music.

Doyle concluded our interview with telling me that he’s lucky to have been in the music business all his life. I count myself lucky to have spent time with such a kind gentleman and we are all lucky to get to hear his great music.

Find out about his current tour with “Nothing but the Hits” Christmas show, videos, pictures and more on his website: Doyle Grisham

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