[Born Jan. 14, 1944, Dollis first exercised his powerful voice in church. Though his family was reluctant to allow him to join the Indian gangs that paraded in their Central City neighborhood due to their reputation for violence, he sewed a suit in secrecy and masked for the first time with the Golden Arrows Mardi Gras Indians as a young teen. Soon after he joined the Wild Magnolias as Flag Boy and, by 1964, had risen to Big Chief.
Like Big Chief Tootie Montana, who was a mentor to him, Bo Dollis was one of a new generation of Mardi Gras Indians that turned away from violence, focusing instead on a contest of costuming and “prettiness.” He was among the first to bring the culture and sound of the Indian culture to national prominence, recording the first commercial album of Mardi Gras Indian music, the single “Handa Wanda,” in 1970 – the same year that he and Monk Boudreaux of the Golden Eagles Mardi Gras Indians appeared at the first New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. In 1974, along with his wife Laurita Dollis, keyboardist Willie Tee, Snooks Eaglin, percussionist Uganda Roberts and saxophonist Earl Turbinton, Dollis recorded the groundbreaking album “The Wild Magnolias,” melding Indian chants with sizzling funk. Over the years, the Wild Magnolias would perform around the world.]