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 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.
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.
Steve Eaton, another Boise Idaho star, is well known for his original recordings and incredible live performances. He continues to record and perform in Idaho and the great Northwest.
Jack Hoffman (steel guitar) was born in Boston on May 18, 1945, Julian "Jake" Hoffman’s musical background was heavily influenced by his parents – both classically trained graduates of the New England Conservatory of Music. But his real love was for the music being made by the likes of Bill Monroe, Earls Scruggs and Lester Flatt, Ralph Stanley, and the early country stars of the Grand Ole Opry. At 14, he taught himself to play the 5-string banjo by slowing down a 45-rpm recording of Earl Scruggs playing the "Ballad of Jed Clampett" to 33rpm and recreating the notes. Jake was drawn to Idaho’s mountains and rivers in 1968 after a 4-year stint in the Coast Guard, and graduated from the University of Idaho in 1973. During his years at the U of I, he played with a number of local groups and musicians. On a visit to a Spokane music store in 1971, he found a used 8-string, 3-pedal, Fender steel guitar for $250. Jake immersed himself in this complicated instrument. He found inspiration in the works of Leon McAuliffe (Bob Wills), John Hughey (Conway Twitty), Tom Brumley (Buck Owens), Ralph Mooney (Merle Haggard), Doug Jernigan (Vassar Clements), Neil Flanz (Gram Parsons), Bobby Black (Commander Cody) and, of course, the incomparable Buddy Emmons. After leaving Moscow, Jake fell in with the band, Whitewater, where he played dueling banjos with the 12-string slide guitar and banjo virtuoso, Michael Wendling. On New Year’s Eve, 1973, in the Roundup Room of the Whitman Hotel, in Pocatello, Idaho, Jake fell under Pinto’s spell when he was called in to play steel guitar with the band that became Tarwater. Jake played steel and banjo with Tarwater throughout the mid-70’s. He has stayed in touch with Pinto ever since that day over 30 years ago. Today, Jake lives in Boise where he works in the computer software industry, but still finds time to play with his old friends every now and then.
One of, if not 'the' outstanding fiddle player today. Teddy headed up the TARWATER band for many years. A reunion album for this great band was recently released to great acclaim. Teddy now lives in Nashville with his lovely wife Janis and their precious grandaughter Ava Ray, where he records and makes music with out rival.
KW Turnbow is an extrodinary drummer. After he left the FAMOUS MOTEL COWBOYS he found himself in Nashville, recording with the best, and finally toured with Chris Ladoux from many years. Chris's band is still touring with KW at the drums, and recently appeared with Garth Brooks on the CMA show in a tribute to Chris. But he always comes back to play with Pinto & the gang and the annual FAMOUS MOTEL COWBOY reunions in Boise, Idaho.
Kenny Saunders is a well know picker in Idaho. He currently heads up the Cowboy Cadillac band with fellow Pinto alum Jerry Biggie. Kenny and his angel of a wife Maggie are livin' and raisin' their kids in the beautiful town of Emmett Idaho.