Having learned of the troubadour’s code—performing in exchange for basic needs like food and housing—while a teenager, Moro took the code to heart and made a name for himself around the world. Originally known as Buddy Bohn, Moro traveled across continents for the price of a heartfelt song played on his guitar. He has played for kings and queens, actors and artists as well as cooks, smugglers, and American troops stationed in Laos. During his travels he also recorded three albums, on three different labels, on three separate continents. His international hit “Vermouth Rondo” helped him build his home and recording studio in Bodega Bay, California, where he continues to record. For 22 consecutive years, the popularity of his music has earned him recognition from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) for consistent play of his compositions.
Moro was born Walter Moro Bohn on August 21, 1939, in Evanston, Illinois. Moro’s mother, Charlotte, divorced his father when the musician was very young; his mother then married Jack McCoy, who Moro considered a father. McCoy was a six-day bike racer who competed in the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics. His mother was an actress who performed throughout the 1940s at Carmel’s Golden Bough Theatre. When he was around two years old, Moro’s family moved from Evanston to Santa Barbara, California, where the more consistent weather suited them better than the changing seasons of the Midwest. From Santa Barbara, the family moved to Carmel, where they lived for eight years.
Moro picked up a guitar for the first time when he was six years old. Having noticed a guitar sitting out at a family friend’s house, he asked for permission to play it. Within seconds of picking it up, Moro was playing a tune. He was hooked. A local guitar store in Carmel became his first classroom. He would go there often to look at and play the guitars. He was coached by a woman who worked there who was an expert guitar player. Moro tried taking piano lessons, but his desire for improvisation infuriated his teacher. She eventually walked out on his lessons, telling his mother that he would never be a musician. When Moro was 12 years old, he gave his first professional concert in Laguna Beach. The money he earned from this event became the down payment for his first concert guitar.
Eventually, Moro’s family ended up in Los Gatos, California, just south of San Francisco. It was here that Moro learned of the way of life that would lead him around the world. The family’s home in Los Gatos had land that connected it to the vineyards of Sacred Heart Novitiate, a school for the Jesuit priesthood. Father Charleton, director of the Novitiate, found Moro in the vineyard one day eating grapes and playing guitar. Father Charleton sat with Moro and listened to him play, eventually telling Moro that he could be a troubadour and explaining what that meant. Moro related to Contemporary Musicians what Father Charleton told him: “A troubadour never uses money as a means of exchange and performs for royalty as well as other folks, directly for his passage, food, lodging, clothing, visas and all other needs. Everything a troubadour gets is given to him from the heart in exchange for something from his heart (music).” This notion and its possibilities stuck with Moro.
After high school, Moro attended Principia College in Elsah, Illinois. Located in a beautiful setting on the banks of the Mississippi River, Principia College is a school geared toward Christian Scientists. Moro’s grandfather had told him about the school and Moro decided to go there after a successful meeting with other prospective students and administrators from the school. On break during the summer of 1959, Moro traveled throughout the Hawaiian Islands, testing out the troubadour life. Hawaii was still a territory at the time and Moro traveled among the islands via tugboats or private airplanes. The next summer he traveled to Europe. Moro graduated from Principia College in 1961 with a bachelor’s degree in drama and journalism.
Starting the year he graduated from college, Moro traveled for 14 years. He spent nearly three years traveling solely by the troubadour code. Although most of his experiences were overwhelmingly positive, Moro did have his share of close calls. In the winter of 1961, he arrived in Algeria during the height of the Algerian struggle for independence from France. He was harassed by both the SAO (Secret Army Organization) and the French Army, both of whom thought he was a spy or terrorist for the other group. He was able to
Born Walter Moro Bohn on August 21, 1939, in Evanston, IL; son of Jack (a competitive bike racer) and Charlotte McCoy (an actress). Education: Bachelor’s degree in journalism and drama from Principia College, Elsah, IL, 1961.
Performed professionally at Laguna Beach, CA, age 12; toured Hawaiian Islands, 1959; toured Europe, 1960; traveled throughout Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and Australia as a troubadour, 1961-64; performed on the Andy Williams Show, 1965; toured with the New Christy Minstrels, 1967; performed at Paul Newman’s Factory and Howard Hughes’s Cabaret Room, 1968-70; built his home/recording studio in Bodega Bay, CA, 1972; officially changed name to Moro, 1975; released first album on his own Budwick label, 1976.
Awards: Earned 22 consecutive American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP) awards for consistent airings of his compositions, 1981-2002.
Member: American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers.
Addresses: Home and record company —Budwick Music, P.O. Box 11, Bodega Bay, CA 94923-0011. Booking —Arthur Schafman International Ltd., 163 Amsterdam Ave. #121, New York, NY 10023, (212) 799-4814. Website —Moro and Budwick Music Official Website: http://www.moromusic.com.
convince them he was neither a spy nor a terrorist and was allowed to continue his journey. In an interview with Contemporary Musicians, Moro listed some of the people he played for during that time: “I performed for King Fredrick IX of Denmark, Maharaja and Maharani of Gwalior, Queens Sirikit and Elizabeth II, Duchess Francesca in Granada, shaikh of Hofuf, King Bhumibol of Siam, His Highness, Shaikh Shakhbut II bin Sultan Al Nahyan, ruler of Abu Dhabi, for some friendly Bedouin champagne smugglers (while crossing the Arabian Desert as guest of their camel caravan), for the Maharaja of Sanpur, Baron and Baroness Peiris of Sri Lanka, the International Council of Europe and so on.”
In 1963, after having traveled throughout Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, Moro ended up in Australia. It was here that he recorded his first album, Buddy Bohn—Folksinger. In 1965 Moro appeared on the Andy Williams Show, a popular variety show during the 1960s. In 1967 he toured with the New Christy Minstrels, a popular folk group, as a guest guitarist. From 1968 to 1970, Moro played for the private Los Angeles club owned by Paul Newman called the Factory. Remembering that time, Moro told Contemporary Musicians, “It was possibly the mellowest and most artistic-feedback-rewarding of all the steady engagements I ever played.” He added: “It might be topped only by the occasions when I played personally for Pablo Picasso in a café in Aix-en-Provence, sitting only two feet from him, and when I gave a private performance for Howard Hughes.”
In 1970 he recorded his second album, Places, in Los Angeles on the Happy Tiger label. In 1972 he recorded his third album, A Drop in the Ocean, in the United Kingdom, performing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. One of Moro’s compositions from A Drop in the Ocean, “Vermouth Rondo,” went on to become an international hit. Moro used the money he received on royalties from this album to build his home and recording studio in Bodega Bay, California. In 1975 Moro changed his professional name from Buddy Bohn to Moro, his middle name. Since 1976 he has recorded five albums on his own Budwick Music Company label.
Moro’s music reflects the extent of his travels and the influence they have had on him. As William Ellis stated in reviewing Moro’s 1995 album Amilucience for American Record Guide, “It’s more folksy than you might expect and conjures the Orient… as much as Andalusia.” Continuing to compose, play, and perform, Moro has also begun writing a memoir as well as a screenplay about his life.
Buddy Bohn—Folksinger, Leedon, 1963.
Places, Happy Tiger, 1970.
A Drop in the Ocean, Capitol, 1972.
Rain, Sun and Moon, Budwick, 1976.
Moonset, Budwick, 1979.
Concerta De Alcala, Budwick, 1984.
Pieces of Anda, Budwick, 1988.
Amilucience, Budwick, 1995.
ASCAP Biographical Dictionary, 4th Edition, Jaques Cattell Press, R. R. Bowker Company, 1980.
Who’s Who in Entertainment, 3rd Edition, Marquis Who’s Who, 1997.
American Record Guide, January-February 1997, p. 206.
Christian Science Monitor, July 29, 1963.
Time, February 8, 1963.
Moro and Budwick Music Official Website, http://www.moromusic.com (July 18, 2002).
“Moro: Guitarist,” Arthur Shafman International Ltd., http://ARTHURSHAFMAN.COM/artists/moro (March 27, 2002).
Additional information was obtained from an interview with Moro on May 13, 2002.
—Eve M. B. Hermann
"Moro." Contemporary Musicians. . Encyclopedia.com. (April 21, 2018). http://www.encyclopedia.com/education/news-wires-white-papers-and-books/moro
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