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Local Music Legend ‘Bookie’ Buchenberger Passes Away at Age 77

Don Mattingly visited Bookie during treatment last December. (Photo by Johnny Kincaid)

I don’t normally do this, but one of the great local musicians just passed away and I have to share about this remarkable man. His name was Wayne Buchenberger but everyone called him “Bookie.”

This was a kind man who enriched the lives of a lot of people. I loved listening to him play saxophone and enjoyed talking to him during a December Chemo Buddies visit.

Bookie called Evansville home for 77 years and was a member of the Central High School Class of 1954.

Bookie’s fame goes back to the 50s when he played sax alongside Boots Randolph at the legendary Blue. In fact Bookie bought his first saxophone from Boots Randolph when he was 21.

He packed them in at clubs like the Hotel Vendome, Copy Bar, Rustic Inn, Hotel McCurdy, Executive Inn, Orchid Lounge, the Coachman, Bookie’s Donjon, Hoosier’s Lounge and Blush Ultra Lounge at the Tropicana.

Bookie left the comfort of Evansville for a Department of Defense tour in 1967. Touring to perform in nightclubs was a big part of his career and he was a frequent session musician in Nashville.

One of the highlights of Thunder on the Ohio was Bookie playing “Ole Man River” during the opening ceremonies every year.

Bookie was also a contributor to the “A Caring Community Christmas” CDs for the United Caring Shelters.

Bookie will be missed.

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