Earl W. Bascom
Cowboy of Cowboy Artists - Father of Modern Rodeo
|Born||June 19, 1906
Vernal, Uintah County, Utah
|Died||August 28, 1995
Victorville, San Bernardino County, California
|Education||Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah County, Utah and Victor Valley College, Victorville, San Bernardino County, California|
|Occupation||Cowboy, rodeo champion, rancher, inventor, school teacher, western artist, international sculptor, Hollywood actor|
Earl W. Bascom (June 19, 1906 – August 28, 1995) was an American painter, printmaker, rodeo performer and sculptor, raised in Canada, who portrayed his own experiences cowboying and rodeoing across the American and Canadian West.
Earl Bascom was born in a sod-roofed log cabin on the Bascom 101 Ranch in Vernal, Utah. His father, John W. Bascom, had been a deputy sheriff in Utah who chased Butch Cassidy and the Wild Bunch Gang. Both sets of Earl's grandparents (Joel A. Bascom and C.F.B. Lybbert) were Mormon pioneers, ranchers and frontier lawmen.
Bascom's paternal ancestral background was a colorful aray of nationalities and ethnicities including Quaker, French Basque and Huguenot, as well as an American Colonial Governor, John Webster, and a Revolutionary War soldier, Oliver Greene. His maternal family was of Norwegian, Danish, Dutch and German ancestry. As a child growing up, he was sometimes affectionately addressed by his British-born aunts as "Lord Bascom - King of the Canadian Cowboys," as he was a descendant of European royalty back to Charlemagne.
While Bascom was still a child his family moved to the Bascom Bar-B-3 Ranch in Alberta, Canada. He quit school while in grade three to work on the Hyssop 5H Ranch. Although he was soon marched back to school by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Earl was reprieved to get the job of driving an old stagecoach each day to the surrounding ranches transporting fellow students to and from school.
Bascom was known as the Cowboy of Cowboy Artists due to his wide range of western experiences as a professional bronc buster, cowpuncher, trail driver, blacksmith, freighter, wolf hunter, wild horse chaser, rodeo champion, cattle rancher, dude wrangler, and Hollywood actor. Bascom was among the last of those who experienced the Old West before the end of free-range ranching. Bascom reminisced:
|“||I worked for some of the big open-range outfits from Purple Springs to the Sweetgrass Hills and Kicking Horse Creek to the Milk River Ridge and the Canadian Rockies. On one roundup some 7,000 horses were gathered in one bunch a mile wide. And the Knight Ranch dipped 18,000 head of cattle. What a sight to see. The sight, the sounds, the smell I can still remember.||”|
Professional cowboy 
For Bascom, ranch life and cowboy life was his life. "The life of a cowboy and the West, I know," he stated. Bascom worked on some of the largest horse and cattle ranches in the United States and Canada — ranches that ran thousands of cattle on a million acres (4000 km²) of land. He broke and trained hundreds of horses. He worked on ranches where he chased and gathered horses, cows and even donkeys in Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, Mississippi, Washington, California and Canada. He worked on cattle drives out of the Rockies and horse drives through the Teton Range. He took part on large roundups of horses and cattle, and brandings. He made saddles and stirrups, quirts, chaps, spurs, bridles and bits, ropes and hackamores, and even patched his own boots. Earl's father, John W. Bascom, and Earl's brothers were all experienced ranch cowboys.
Rodeo rider 
A professional rodeo cowboy, Bascom rodeoed from 1916 to 1940 in the rough stock events of saddle bronc riding, bareback riding and bull riding, and in the timed events of steer decorating and steer wrestling. He also performed trick riding. He held memberships in the Cowboys Turtle Association, the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association, the Canadian Rodeo Cowboys Association (now the Canadian Pro Rodeo Association) and the National Police Rodeo Association. An all-around rodeo champion, he has been inducted into several rodeo Halls of Fame in Canada and the United States. He received international acclaim for his rodeo equipment inventions and designs. Earl's brothers - Raymond "Tommy" Bascom, Melvin "High Pockets" Bascom and Weldon "Preacher" Bascom - were also professional rodeo cowboys and Hall of Fame inductees. These rodeos financed his education at Brigham Young University until he graduated in 1940.
Mississippi rodeo 
During his college years, Earl and his brother Weldon produced the first rodeos in Columbia, Mississippi in 1935, 1936 and 1937 while working for Sam Hickman's B Bar H Ranch near Arm, Mississippi. Hickman financed these rodeos. Between rodeos of 1936 and 1937, Earl was a missionary for the LDS Church in Mississippi, serving under Mission President LeGrand Richards of the Southern States Mission.
In 1939, Bascom married Nadine Diffey, who was part American Indian, Creek and Catawba. He met her in Mississippi while cowboying and rodeoing there. They were married in Salt Lake City, Utah and raised five children. Later in life, Nadine Bascom became a sculptor in her own right, creating bas-relief sculptures.
Rodeo clown 
Besides being a serious-minded rodeo contestant, Bascom tried his hand as a rodeo clown and rodeo bullfighter during his rodeo career. Just after his 89th birthday, Earl was honored as the oldest living rodeo clown in the world.
Jim Thorpe's influence 
While working for the Nilsson Rafter-E-N Ranch, Bascom happened to read a story in a western magazine about Native American Jim Thorpe. Thorpe had been working as a horse wrangler, but got fired. The camp cook gave him some advice - go to school. Thorpe took that advice, went to school, excelled in sports and became an Olympic champion.
Jim Thorpe’s life touched Bascom. "I felt like I had walked in his boots," Earl said. "Like Jim Thorpe, cowboy life was the only life that I knew. But what about my art, what about art school?"
Russell and Remington's influence 
Wanting to be an artist since childhood, Bascom filled the pages of his school books in the one-room school house he attended with cowboy scenes. His desire to be a cowboy artist was greatly enhanced after seeing art works of the two great icons of Old West art, Charles M. Russell and Frederic S. Remington - both cousins to his father (Remington and Russell were both related to Bascom through their mothers, Clarissa "Clara" Bascom Sackrider Remington and Mary Elizabeth Mead Russell, respectively). Charles Russell was on the Knight Ranch when Bascom was working there, and had drawn a sketch on the bunkhouse wall and also finished a large oil painting of Raymond Knight on his favorite mount, Blue Bird, roping a steer.
Bascom only completed one full year of school and never finished high school, but he never lost his desire to be an artist. He subscribed to a correspondence art course wherein both Russell and Remington gave instructions on their drawing techniques. "Through those art lessons these two masters of western art were my first real art teachers," He recalled. "In fact the only instructions I ever had in western art were from Remington and Russell."
College art training 
Even though he had no high school diploma, the Brigham Young University out of Provo, Utah accepted him as a student in the fall of 1933. “There I was a 27 years old college freshman who hadn’t been to school in years,” Bascom recalled. “I felt like a wild horse in a pen.” But his persistence was tough, taking every art course the college offered. He studied painting and drawing under professors E.H. Eastmond and B.F. Larsen, and sculpture under Torleif Knaphus. He graduated from BYU in 1940. Later he attended classes at Long Beach City College, Victor Valley College and the University of California Riverside.
In 1917, Bascom saw his first Hollywood movie "The Silent Man" with William S. Hart. Earl and his older brother Melvin were extras in a silent movie in 1920 being filmed in Lethbridge, Alberta. In 1924, a team of palomino horses from the Bascom Ranch was used by Hoot Gibson in a roman race in the movie "The Calgary Stampede." After graduating from college, Bascom and his wife moved to California. Retiring from rodeo, he pursued his art career and ranched. He worked a bit in the movie industry with his brother Weldon Bascom in the Hollywood western, "The Lawless Rider", starring Weldon's wife Texas Rose Bascom. Later Bascom and his son-in-law Mel Marion did TV commercials with Roy Rogers for the Roy Rogers Restaurant chain. Earl and his son John Bascom were in the video documentary "Take Willy With You" recording the life of Turk Greenough and the rodeo riding Greenough family. When the Roy Rogers Riding Stables opened up in Apple Valley, California, Earl and his son John worked there wrangling horses and driving the hay wagon.
Art teacher 
In 1966, after getting his teaching certificate, Bascom taught art classes at John F. Kennedy High School and at Barstow High School. He also served as president of the High Desert Artists, and later as president of the Buckaroo Artists of America. Among his art associates were Bill Bender, Charles LaMonk. Leslie B. DeMille, Glen Turner and Cecil Smith.
International artist 
Bascom became internationally known as a cowboy artist and sculptor. His art has been exhibited in the United States, Canada and Europe. He was honored by the Professional Rodeo Cowboy Artists Association as the first rodeo cowboy to become a professional cowboy artist and sculptor. He was the first cowboy artist to be honored as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts of London. In the summer of 2005, the Earl W. Bascom Memorial Rodeo was held in Berlin, Germany where his cowboy art was exhibited as an honor by the European Rodeo Cowboys Association for Bascom's worldwide influence upon the sport of rodeo.
Later years 
Always one who had deep thoughts and religious leanings, Bascom was ordained a Latter-day Saint Bishop and Patriarch later in life. As the late cowboy celebrity Roy Rogers, who worked with Earl Bascom in TV commercials and was a collector of Bascom art, once said, “Earl Bascom is a walking book of history. His knowledge of the Old West was acquired the old fashioned way – he was born and raised in it.”
Bascom died at the age of 89 on his ranch in Victorville, California, August 28, 1995.
Awards and honors 
|1930||3-Bar Ranch Stampede||All-Around Champion||Saskatchewan|
|1933||Calgary Stampede||Reserve Champion, Steer Decorating, North American Championship||Calgary, Alberta|
|1933||Lethbridge Stampede||World Record time, Steer Decorating||Lethbridge, Alberta|
|1933||Lethbridge Stampede and Raymond Stampede||Arena Record time, Steer Decorating||Alberta|
|1933||Championship of the World, Third Place in Steer Decorating, Rodeo Association of America|
|1934||Lethbridge Stampede||Bareback and All-Around Champion||Lethbridge, Alberta|
|1935||Raymond Stampede||Saddle Bronc, Steer Decorating and All-Around Champion||Raymond, Alberta|
|1936||Nephi Stampede||All-Around Champion||Nephi, Utah|
|1937||Pocatello Rodeo||Saddle Bronc, Bareback, Bull Riding and All-Around Champion||Pocatello, Idaho|
|1938||Rigby Rodeo||Bareback and All-Around Champion||Rigby, Idaho|
|1939||Portland Rodeo||Bareback, Bull Riding and All-Around Champion||Portland, Oregon|
|1940||Raymond Stampede||Saddle Bronc, Bareback and All-Around Champion||Raymond, Alberta|
|Grand Marshal||Cardston, Alberta||1982|
|Grand Marshal||Raymond, Alberta||1984|
|Grand Marshal||Columbia, Mississippi||1985|
|Grand Marshal||Vernal, Utah||1989|
|Grand Marshal||Hesperia, California||1997|
|"Earl Bascom - An American Hero"||Congressional Record, July 9, 1985|
|Bascom Brothers||50th Year Anniversary Rodeo, Columbia, Mississippi, 1985|
|Earl W. Bascom Award||Marion County Cattlemen's Association Rodeo, Mississippi, 1999|
|Earl W. Bascom Memorial Rodeo||Berlin, Germany, 2005|
|Earl Bascom All-Around Champion Award||Dillon Rodeo, Montana|
|Earl W. Bascom All-Around Champion Award||Hesperia Rodeo, California|
|Earl W. Bascom Bareback Champion Award||Dinosaur Roundup Rodeo, Vernal, Utah|
|Earl W. Bascom - Utah Heritage Award||Days of '47 Rodeo, Salt Lake City, Utah|
|Earl W. Bascom - Lethbridge Heritage Award||Whoop-Up Days Pro Rodeo, Lethbridge, Alberta|
|Earl Bascom Saddle Bronc Rookie Award||National High School Finals Rodeo|
|Earl Bascom Bareback Rookie Award||National High School Finals Rodeo|
Hall of Fame honors 
- Canadian Rodeo Hall of Fame
- Utah Sports Hall of Fame
- Raymond (Alberta, Canada) Sports Hall of Fame
- Marion County (Mississippi) Cattleman's Hall of Fame
- Cowboy Memorial Museum
- United States Sports Academy Walk of Fame
- Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, London
- California Rodeo Hall of Fame
- Victor Valley College Alumni Hall of Fame
- Lethbridge (Alberta, Canada) Sports Hall of Fame
- Victor Valley Museum
- Alberta (Canada) Sports Hall of Fame
Rodeo innovations 
Earl Bascom is known as an innovator and designer of rodeo equipment and rodeo gear. His inventions include:
- first side-delivery bucking chute (1916) at Welling, Alberta (assisted by brothers Raymond, Melvin and father John W. Bascom)
- first reverse-opening side-delivery bucking chute (1919) at Lethbridge, Alberta (assisted by his father John W. Bascom)
- first hornless bronc saddle (1922) at Lethbridge, Alberta
- first one-hand bareback rigging (1924) at Stirling, Alberta
- first high-cut rodeo chaps (1926) at Raymond, Alberta
- rodeo exerciser (1928) at Raymond, Alberta
- first night rodeo held outdoors under electric lights (September 24, 1935), at Columbia, Mississippi
- first permanent rodeo arena with bucking chutes and grandstands in the state of Mississippi (1936) at Columbia, Mississippi
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (June 2010)|
- List of Mormon pioneers
- "Earl's ancestors Herodius Long was a Quaker, Gilbertus Bask'omme was a French Basque nobleman and Robert Bascom was a Huguenot"
- "Earl's maternal grandmother, Antonette Marie Olsen Lybbert, was from Oslo, Norway; his maternal grandfather, C.F.B. Lybbert, was from Flade, Denmark but was of German, Prussian and Dutch ancestry"
- "Earl's father got the contract to drive the school district's coach wagon using a team of horses from the Bascom Ranch"
- Roundup Magazine "Rodeo Champion - Cowboy Artist Earl W. Bascom" (December 1995, Volume III Number 2)
- "American Hero Earl W. Bascom". (Summer 1995), United Lumbee Nation Times
- Alberta Beef "Cowboy Artist, Earl W. Bascom" (October 1995, page 30)
- Buckle News "Rodeo Champion - Cowboy Artist, Earl W. Bascom, Rides into Sunset" (November 1995, pages 6 and 7)
- ProRodeo Sports News "Bascom dies at 89" (September 13, 1995)
- Smith, Norma, editor, Our Town 2002: Raymond Stampede Centennial (Raymond Historical Society, page 53) ISBN 0-9685225-4-8 "Earl and Weldon learned trick riding from their boyhood friend and world champion trick rider Ted Elder who gave one of his extra trick saddles to them to perform on."
- "Bascom's influence on European rodeo is acknowledged by the European Rodeo Cowboys Association"
- Mahoney, Sylvia Gann; Hedeman, Tuff (2004). College rodeo: from show to sport. Texas A&M University Press. p. 8. ISBN 1-58544-331-X.
- Vernal Express (August 30, 1995 "World's oldest living rodeo clown and bullfighter dies"
- United Lumbee Nation Times, ibid.
- "The bridle headstall shown on C. M. Russell's depiction of the horse, Blue Bird, was the same one that Raymond Knight gave to Earl as payment for breaking a horse for him"
- United Lumbee Nation Times, ibid.
- "Texas Rose Bascom"
- Johnston, Ron (2007). Famous Mormons, Interesting Profiles of Well-known Latter-day Saints (Spring Creek, pages 13-14). ISBN 978-1-932898-57-6
- Bascom Web Portal
- Bascom's rodeo innovations
- Congressional tribute to Earl Bascom
- European rodeo tribute to Earl Bascom
- Canadian Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame
- Utah Sports Hall of Fame
- Victor Valley College Hall of Fame