Pinto Bennett (vocals & rhythm guitar) was born in 1948 in Mountain Home, Idaho. In the 60's he worked in the livestock industry, and had an interesting Naval career. Then in the 70's he started his musical career. "The Idaho Cowboy" himself, Pinto toured regularly in America, Great Britain and Europe with his legendary band "The Famous Motel Cowboys". Bennett's career spans over 30 years, during which time he has secured a dedicated following of fans tuned-into his incredible "off-the-wall" style and his way of achieving a great "feel-good" atmosphere everywhere he performs. His shows, consisting of his skillfully crafted self-penned or co-written songs, which over the years have commanded the respect of musicians & audiences alike; cover practically every aspect of life "on-the-road" with Bennett's wry irony and humor always evident. More recently, a much younger audience (and musicians) have discovered Pinto's music and he is rapidly becoming something of a cult figure not only in his home state of Idaho, but in Texas, Nashville and elsewhere in the USA, but further afield in Europe, and worldwide. Sadly, The Famous Motel Cowboys are no longer touring, however during the past couple of years, Pinto has involved himself in his latest "re-invention" under the guise of "TRIO PINTO", which is everything musically that The Famous Motel Cowboys were but in a more rootsy acoustic format. Pinto has three beautiful daughters Danielle, Heather and Michelle. He now lives in Boise, Idaho with his wonderful wife Barbara and Danielle.
Robbie Matson (lead guitar), born in 1956, has lived all his life in Idaho, has been playing guitar since 1966 and has a Batchelor of Music degree in Classical Guitar Performance from Boise State University. He began playing with Pinto in 1981 and still remembers the first time he got on stage with him: "It was a revelation to me that country music could be played with so much energy and integrity and I've been committed to our music ever since".
Robbie's musical influences range from Albert Lee to Andres Segovia and from the country-rock of The Byrds and Gram Parsons to The Beatles and Earth, Wind & Fire. Known within the band as 'the Maestro' for his multi-instrumental talents (you can hear him playing trumpet on 'Famous Motel Cowboy Songs'), Robbie's clean, fluid style of country picking reflects his classical training on guitar. He and Sergio played on stage with an almost telepathic understanding and their different styles are a perfect complement to each other. Rob’s now a recording studio engineer in Nashville, has two exceptional daughters Lindsey and Molly, and still performs every year in May at The Famous Motel Cowboys reunion in Boise.
Mark “Sergio” Webb (lead guitar), who was given the stage name 'Sergio' by Pinto, was born in 1955 in the south-east Texas town of Mexia (pronounced Mah-hey-ah), but grew up in the Dallas suburb of Mesquite, famous only for being a major stop on the Professional Rodeo circuit.
It was in bars in Dallas that Mark came across "some of the finest guitar playing I've ever seen" and, at the age of 17, he started playing guitar himself. After a couple of years at college Mark met up with fellow Texan Kip Attaway who was working in Pocatello, Idaho. They formed a band and played the local pubs during the summer. Returning to Dallas, Mark finished his degree in Political Science and worked, reluctantly, as an accountant and proof reader until Attaway persuaded him, without too much effort, to give it up in favour of music. Mark first met Pinto in 1981; like most regional musicians their paths crossed through the years and they usually wound up staying in the same motels. Mark recalls: "we still owe a 244.32 dollar bar tab in Alamosa, Colorado". A feature of Famous Motel Cowboy music is it's variety of styles and musical textures. On stage Mark would use electric 6 and 12 string, acoustic and lap steel guitars, a battery of foot switches controlling effects which include a Leslie rotating speaker cabinet and some highly unorthodox playing techniques to produce a bewildering range of sounds. Back home he loves to search the pawn-shops for instruments and gadgets, the older and more obscure the better. In a band which thrives on humour Mark is renowned for his lightning fast, throw-away one liners. Asked by one interviewer about his musical history, he replied: "I went to school and tried to be legitimate; then I met Pinto and it's been downhill ever since!". Mark now lives in Nashville with his lovely wife Julie, released his debut solo album “The Long Green Mile” last year and in America, the UK and Europe with Richard Dobson and other greats.
Joe Dow (drums), was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1951, the youngest of four children. His father died when Joe was 15 months old and the family moved to Salt Lake City, Utah, where he grew up. Taking up drums around 1963, Joe played in school bands and, later, a marching band! Heavily influenced by the British rock 'n' roll invasion of the early sixties, Joe played drums in various local bands until 1971, and in 1978 he went on the road playing all through the western and mid-western states, as well as Nashville, Canada and even Alaska. Joe first met Pinto in the Spring of 1983, as their respective bands moved around the western music circuit and, in October 1987, he joined Pinto to complete the line up of the Famous Motel Cowboys. Joe's drumming was a powerhouse of the Famous Motel Cowboy sound. He brought to the band the power and drive of a rock drummer combined with the feel and swing of a natural country player and also sang the main harmony vocal. Joe uses 'North' drums with an unusual flared shape which projects the sound out toward the audience - "with good mics in them the toms sound like cannons; they look weird but I like them just fine". Joe loves the outdoors, sleeping under the stars, "skiing powder snow up to my waist" and "hangin' out around a fire in the mountains with good drink and good company - or alone is cool too". For Joe the hardest part of being on the road was being away from his kids, Jacob and Kristopher - "they are my absolute heroes!". Joe’s been stickin’ close to home doin’ hanging out with his sons & doin’ some carpentry / wood working stuff, but he’ll be back on the road with Bruce Howser soon.
Jim Lemmon (bass guitar). Big Jim Lemmon was born in 1949 in Northern Idaho, the youngest of six "very tough and aggressive kids". When Jim was 7 years old his father moved his family back to the farm in Mountain Home, Idaho, where he himself had been raised. It was here, as kids, that Jim and Pinto first met and their fathers, both amateur musicians, played in a band together. After a spell at college, Jim married and settled down to raising two young sons and establishing his own construction business. However, time spent in local honky-tonks, listening to good music, made him suspect that "the boys in the band were having more fun; my suspicions were later confirmed!". With the help of his brother, Warren, Jim learned bass guitar and, after his divorce, began to play in local 'week-end' bands until Pinto asked him to join the original 'Pinto Bennett Band'. "Boy was I proud. Then I learned how really bad I was!". When Pinto moved to Nashville, Jim went back to his carpentry and to his 'week-end' bands until, in 1987, Pinto returned from his first visit to the UK to form the 'Famous Motel Cowboys'. "Once again I was playing with a real band. It's never been better."
Jim is a stylish interpreter of classic western swing tunes and lists his strongest musical influences as "Bob Wills for the beat, Ray Charles for the soul and Rodney Crowell to keep the blinders off". He has strong feelings about the craft of musicianship and says: "if the musicians are working hard and applying their trade to make the songs sound the best, then it's good music whether it's rock 'n' roll, blues, country or anything". It's a philosophy, which he owes to his "tough and wonderful parents", that Jim carries into everything he does, be it pickin', dealing with the band's business affairs or working with his hands. Jim now lives in Salem, Oregon and is still buildin’ stuff. He dusts off his bass guitar once a year for The Famous Motel Cowboy reunion, and he’s still the handsome one.