Buford O’Sullivan first appeared onstage at the age of five, playing one of two murdered children in the Greek tragedy Medea. The role demanded that he lay still on the floor covered in blood. His next stage appearance was in the role of Pontius Pilate in a sixth-grade production of “Jesus Christ Superstar’, and as he conducted the thirty nine lashes, he accidentally made contact with Jesus’ back using a real bull whip, when he was supposed to just hit the floor with it. He begged forgiveness after the show, but has always thought that Jesus never fully forgave him for that.
His first paying gig on the trombone was at Busch Gardens, Tampa Florida at the age of 19. It was a grueling job with six performances of German folk songs a day in front of a thronging tourist crowd. It taught him that being on stage wasn’t all just fun and games, especially during the blistering Florida summer.
In the early eighties, he was the lead singer of an all but unknown new wave band from the Hudson Valley called Big Noise. He had long hair, wore hand-painted t-shirts, and played on small stages from Boston to New York. The band released a single titled College Student with a video that was aired on The Joe Franklin Show, but the band broke up in 1987.
Buford then moved to New York City, and while walking down Houston Street ran into Richard Brooks and Mike Drance of The Scofflaws. They had recently lost their trombonist, so when they saw Buford, still with long hair, painted t-shirt and a trombone gig bag slung over his shoulder, they struck up a conversation and gave him an opportunity to sit in with the band. He passed the audition in time to be on their first self-titled CD on Moon Records, released in 1990.
At about the same time, Eric Storkman called to hire him as a sub with The Toasters on a trip to the west coast. While the Scofflaws became his main band, he continued to do Toaster tours and take free-lance gigs with groups around New York.
When Michael Drance left The Scofflaws in 1994, to form The Bluebeats, Buford stepped up with four songs as the band prepared to record their second release 'Ska In Hi-Fi'. The songs were 'William Shatner', 'Nude Beach', 'Back Door Open' and 'Never Wonder Why'. 'Shatner' was included in the controversial 'Ska The Third Wave Vol.1' compilation; 'Nude Beach' was used in HBOs soft-core adult show 'Sex Bytes', and in the late nineties, it was covered by the Brazilian band 'Tihuana' (Virgin/EMI) who achieved a hit with the song. The Scofflaws toured the United States and Europe with Buford sharing the lead with Richard Brooks. This position required him to finally shave off his long hair and trade in his t-shirts for sixties styled suits and ties.
In the late nineties, Buford went solo with a 7inch single featuring three songs recorded with his friends Victor Rice and Robert 'Bucket' Hingley, which was release on Moon Ska Records. The b-side, 'I Gotta Do It Someday' was included on the second pressing of 'Ska The Third Wave Vol.1'. The a-side track 'I Can't Decide' was featured on the Moon Ska Records compilation 'Skankaholics Unanimous'. Soon after, he released his first solo CD on 'Ska-Satellite Records', which was a subsidy of Moon Ska, and 'Hey Officer' was included on Stubborn Records compilation 'Ska Is Not Dead'.
Then the winds changed for ska bands as the Third Wave crested and broke. When the Scofflaws recorded what was to be their final CD, 'Record of Convictions', Buford decided to delve into his past and resurrect a song titled 'College Student' by his old band, 'Big Noise'. As well, his song 'In The Basement' received a heavy dose of radio play. In 1999, he released an experimental project called 'The Sexy Eye' as a download on '7 Wonders Of The World' label, a music website run by Stephen Shafer, formerly of Moon Ska Records. This was well received, but the website went under, and the songs became unavailable. At the same time, his tenure with The Scofflaws came to an end, and he began to play full time with The Toasters, just as Moon Ska Records were closing their doors for good. The side projects continued with horn work on the tune 'Some Of Us' by Primitive Reason, a Portuguese ska/metal band, and on the album 'Victor Rice At Version City' released on Stubborn Records.
His song 'Can I Get Another' was recorded on The Toasters CD 'Enemy Of The System' and was an instant crowd pleaser number while on tour. In 2003, he released 'I Hate My Cellphone' on the Megalith Records 4CD compilation 'Still Standing'. He recorded with the horn section on Victor Rice's 'In America' album, also released on Megalith Records.
Buford served with ‘Dub is a Weapon, recording with them and playing the north-east, ultimately joining them to back up Lee Scratch Perry. Then, he received a call from The Easy Star All-Stars to join them on their first tour to promote “Dub Side of the Moon”. The relationship took hold, and he has since been on three of their releases: “Radiodread”, “Until That Day”, and most recently “Easy Star’s Lonely Hearts Dub Band”. He has also joined fellow Chronic Horns Jenny Hill and Pam Flemming of the legendary Burning Brass (Burning Spear), to get onstage with Warren Haynes and Gov’t Mule for three of their New Years Eve bonanzas at the Beacon Theater, the first featuring Toots Hibbert - and as such appears on their “Mighty High” release.
Buford continues to play with Easy Star, as well as with Courtney Lee Adams Jr around New York, and with various other ensembles. He writes, and records as a habit, and generally enjoys life.