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Gary Mule Deer
Gary was born in Deadwood and raised on a cattle ranch in Spearfish, in the Black Hills of South Dakota. After high school, along with bow hunting and fishing, Gary attempted to further his education at local Black Hills State University, and also worked as a painter, bartender, bellman, bakers assistant, fishing guide, vacuum cleaner salesman, plumbers assistant, and owner and operator of the local movie theater before deciding that show business appeared to be the ideal job to get into because he could sleep late. Besides, after six years he was still a freshman.
After one guitar lesson, Gary learned around 30 Johnny Cash and Buddy Holly songs in the Key of E and combined them with some deadpan humor, influenced by his comedy hero Jack Benny. Within a few weeks he was entertaining in the local bars around the Black Hills. After a short stint with partner Dennis Writer in The Black Hills Two, Gary, along with four other musicians then formed a rock and roll band called The Vaqueros. The Vaqueros suddenly found themselves opening for some famous rock and roll bands making one night stop-overs at The Spearfish Park Pavilion. Some of the more memorable being The Ventures, The Crickets, Jerry Lee Lewis, and The Everly Brothers.
After a break-up of The Vaqueros, Gary headed for Denver, where he spent a year opening for such acts as Jose Feliciano and Michael Johnson, before catching a ride to Los Angeles and landing at Randy Sparks' club Ledbetter's, where he got a job as the replacement for Michael Martin Murphy in the folk-rock group, The New Society, on RCA Records.
During this time Gary and his roommate, Steve Martin, began to write what would be the basis of their comedy acts for years to come, making them two of the most avant-garde comics around, with their off-the-wall prop humor, combined with Gary's guitar and Steve's banjo music.
Steve became a writer-performer on the Smothers Brothers Show, and Gary spent the next few years with Epic Records' The Back Porch Majority, which evolved into the rock and roll group Bandanna, on Paramount Records. When the members of Bandanna finally stopped speaking to each other, Gary hooked up with a partner, Dennis Flannigan, and formed The Muledeer and Moondogg Medicine Show, an unusual comedy duo that performed on a wide variety of television shows such as Midnight Special, In Concert, The John Byner Comedy Hour, David Frost's Madhouse 90, Jack Paar, Merv Griffin, and a host of others. Muledeer and Moondogg performed in concert with everyone from The Doobie Brothers, The Beach Boys and Chicago, to Earth, Wind and Fire and The Guess Who, and at over 300 colleges across the country.
Muledeer and Moondogg parted in 1976, and Gary went out on his own as Gary Mule Deer. He began appearing on numerous Tonight Shows, did regular stints on CBS's Dinah Shore Show, and was the co-host and off camera announcer on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. He was now working as a regular at both The Comedy Store and The Improv, and was one of six comedians to appear on the very first HBO comedy special, "Freddie Prinze and Friends."
Gary appeared in the movies "Annie Hall" and Cheech and Chong's "Up In Smoke" and on over 100 television shows, including Hollywood Squares the pilot episode of Norm Crosby's Comedy Shop, and Steve Martin's specials, "Comedy Is Not Free" and "The Winds of Whoopee." He was a writer on the Steve Martin special, "The Funnier Side of Eastern Canada, a writer-performer on Tony Orlando and Dawn, and The Dinah Shore Summer Show on CBS. Gary has the distinction of being among the select few comics ever to appear with Dick Clark on several episodes of American Bandstand. He also, during this time, had the largest hair on national television and a musical comedy act that consisted of over 300 pounds of props, 15 audio tapes, and both acoustic and electric guitars. This combined with his deadpan delivery of offbeat satirical humor and the ability to create absurd situations, set Gary Mule Deer apart as one of kind.
Gary became a frequent judge on The Gong Show and a regular performer on Make Me Laugh, and began making many appearances on both The Tonight Show and Late Night With David Letterman. He also (after a long overdue haircut) began entertaining at the major casinos in Las Vegas, Reno, Tahoe and Atlantic City with top country and pop performers, including Roger Miller, Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers, Willie Nelson, Frank Sinatra, Reba McEntire, Ray Charles, The Judds, Crystal Gayle, and most recently, Brooks and Dunn, and Johnny Mathis.
He was a regular performer on what was formerly the Nashville Network, with over 100 appearances in the past twelve years, including Nashville Now, The Statler Brothers Show, Church Street Station, Country Kitchen, Prime Time Country, and a regular spot on Hee Haw in 1991, where he introduced two new characters, the Right Reverend G.C. Mule Deer, and Cactus Jack Bad Cowboy Poet.
Gary Mule Deer was a headliner in major comedy clubs across the U.S. for 25 years, and was a frequent visitor to A&E's "Evening At The Improv." In 1987, he was featured on ABC's "20/20" and in December 1993 on the CBS special "Great Television Moments...What We Watched".
For the past nine years Gary has been touring with Johnny Mathis in concert, appearing regularly in major Las Vegas and Atlantic City showrooms including Bally's, the Hilton, Caesar's Palace and The Tropicana. He also appears at The Eldorado and Silver Legacy hotels in Reno as well as other major venues like the Greek Theater in Los Angeles and Royal Albert Hall in London. He also is a favorite at corporate events around the country and is a frequent headliner for Royal Caribbean International..
Although noted for his comedy, Gary Mule Deer gets an equally enthusiastic response from audiences as a singer of country music. In addition to his comedic appearances with the Smothers Brothers at Harrah's in both Reno and Lake Tahoe, he has made several appearances on The Grand Ole Opry, most recently performing his new single CD (Old Glory). In October of 2000 this versatile performer appeared in a co-starring role as an attorney on the CBS television show "Nash Bridges."
An avid fly fisherman and golfer, Gary has appeared on many celebrity outdoor TV fishing shows and participates in approximately twelve major pro-am and celebrity charity golf tournaments every year, as well as playing and entertaining at several LPGA and PGA events. Gary recently entertained along with Glen Campbell and Vince Gill at the Phoenix Open, the AT&T Pebble Beach All Star Show and at The Nabisco Championship with Michael Bolton. He also performed with Bruce Hornsby at the Bryant Gumbel. Gary and his partners were the 1998 winners of The Crosby in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and took second place in 1999.
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