Luman was born in Blackjack, Texas, but raised in Nacogdoches, Texas. His early interest in music was influenced by his father, an amateur fiddle, guitar and harmonica player. Bob Luman received his first guitar when he was thirteen years of age.
Bob Luman had been a baseball star in his high school, and he tried out with the Major League Baseball Pittsburgh Pirates, but when he didn’t make it in professional baseball, he decided to concentrate on music. In 1956, he won a talent contest promoted by the Future Farmers of America, which earned him an appearance on the Louisiana Hayride.
For the Hayride, Luman formed a backup band called the Shadows, including James Burton on guitar, James Kirkland on bass and Butch White on drums. In 1957, the band signed with Imperial Records, where they recorded “All Night Long” and “Amarillo Blues.”
The following year, having been dropped by Imperial Records, Luman signed with Capitol Records, where he released “Try Me” and “I Know My Baby Cares.” Capitol Records wanted Luman to change his name, which he refused to do, so he left the record label and signed with Warner Bros. Records, recording “Class of ’59” and “Loretta.”
In 1960, Luman was inducted into the United States Army. It was while still in the Army that Warner Bros. Records released Luman’s best-known crossover hit, “Let’s Think About Living,” a novelty song that hit No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 9 on the Billboard country music chart. It also reached the Top 10 in the UK Singles Chart.
Luman toured frequently in the 60s and 70s, and became popular in Las Vegas, with an act which combined country and rockabilly. He signed with Epic Records in 1968, and had several hits with them, including “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers” and “Still Loving You.” “Lonely Women Make Good Lovers” became his biggest country hit, hitting No. 4 on the country chart. (Steve Wariner, who had earlier been a member of Luman’s band, later covered the song in 1984, and he, too, took it to No. 4 on the country charts.)
Luman’s other country hits included “Ain’t Got Time To Be Unhappy” (1968), “Ballad of Two Brothers” (with Autry Inman, 1968), “When You Say Love” (1972), “Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be The First To Say Goodbye)” (1973), “Proud Of You Baby” (1975), and “The Pay Phone” (1977). Perhaps his most unusual song was a slow, soulful recitation of Johnny Cash’s “I Still Miss Someone.”
Luman died in Nashville of pneumonia in 1978, at the age of forty-one. After his death, Bear Family Records released several compilations of his songs, including More of the Rocker, Still Rockin’ and Carnival Rock.
- April, 15, 1937
- Nacogdoches, Texas
- December, 27, 1978
- Nashville, Tennessee