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The Leather Man - Bo Riddle

According to the all-knowing Wikipedia, leather is “a naturally durable and flexible material created by tanning animal skins. The most common leather is cattle hide.”

Leather is used to make a variety of products including automobile seats, clothing, bags, book bindings, fashion accessories, furniture, and killer boots. It comes in a variety of types and styles, and it is decorated using a wide range of techniques. The earliest record of leather artifacts dates back to 2200 BC.

Recently I received a message from Chris Wigger, the president of the Ironton First State Community Bank. We at 573 Magazine have always had an excellent partnership with First State Community Bank. I am proud to say that 573 Magazine and First State Community Bank have the same line of thinking—both our companies treat everyone fairly and at face value. No bias, no politics, and no good ol' boy nonsense. Wow, did I get off track?

Anyway, Chris suggested I take a look at a guy living in Ironton who makes leather goods for celebrities. Okay, I was hooked. A guy, living in a small town, making high-end leather goods for famous people sounds very interesting.

Meet Bo Riddle...

Even his name sounds like a guy who makes boots for country singers—right?

Leather-working and music are my hobbies and passions.

I was born in Fort Smith, Arkansas, and raised in rural Missouri. After several years in Nashville, Tennessee, I moved back to Missouri where I now live with my wife, Nyla, in Arcadia. We have a daughter, Vanessa, who lives locally with her husband Billy, and their two children, Bria and Blake. We also have a son, Zack, who lives in a suburb of Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife Brandis and their two sons, Aidan and Camden. I have been working with leather for about fifty years. Leather-working and music are my hobbies and passions.

Working with leather is my job and my hobby. I have made almost everything you can make out of leather. From something as simple as a knife sheath to a pair of boots or shoes. I have made handbags, briefcases, gun bags, holsters, motorcycle seats, tour bus interiors... you name it, I have probably made it.

When I was in the sixth grade my father bought a shoe repair shop, and that's when I started working with leather. After high school, I went to Oklahoma State Tech in Okmulgee and learned to make boots. Everything else I learned the hard way—trial and error.

Almost overnight, I was discovered...

My passion for songwriting inspired me to move to Nashville in 1990. Almost overnight, I was discovered—well, for my boots. Kix Brooks, an up-and-coming artist at the time, ordered a flashy pair of black boots decorated with red flames, and my reputation spread like wildfire. Singer Marty Stuart ordered a pair, then Alan Jackson, Brooks and Dunn, Montgomery Gentry, Sammy Kershaw, along with many other celebrities.

What's next for me is to enjoy my semi-retirement, continue playing music with friends, and work in my shop making fine leather goods. I hope to take on some students who would like to learn the trade, as well as spend time with my wife, children, and grandchildren until God calls me home.

To get your leather on visit

He gets a 573 Magazine 5 stars.


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