"It was all right after they saw me playing on TV in the '50s," Dobbs said.
And since he hasn't ended up there -- and all evidence would seem to indicate hell will not be his final destination -- "I guess God saw me too," he noted.
Dobbs played fiddle on TV in Monroe, La., for Merle Kilgore, who wrote "Ring of Fire." Years later, when he was host of a long-running West Virginia Public Radio show called "Music From the Mountains," Dobbs interviewed Kilgore, who'd gone on to become Hank Williams Jr.'s manager.
"He knew Hank when Hank was on the ['Louisiana] Hayride,'" said Dobbs, a popular show that was a starting point for many country music legends.
Dobbs got himself to West Virginia in 1967.
"I was living in Nashville, working for a record distribution company," he recalled. "They sent me up here to sell new accounts."
He and his wife soon relocated here for good. Through the years, Dobbs and his signature snow-white Santa Claus beard have became a fixture on the state's old-time music scene.
His fiddling skills and repertoire of tunes range widely, from Celtic and swing, to country and, well ... whatever may be called for.
When people ask what kind of music he plays, "I generally tell them: When I bought the fiddle it had no instructions with it -- and I play whatever I want to," said Dobbs.
As an aspiring player in college, he ran into a staff guitar player on the "Louisiana Hayride" named Brian Ritter.
"I told him I wanted to play fiddle on a professional level. He said, 'You should play every kind of music you can -- don't just play what you like. If you learn to play all different kinds of music, it'll make you a better player.' That was the best advice I ever got," he said.
His fiddle is integral to the 1937 Flood's wide-ranging, fun-time mix of classic, sometimes eccentric and offbeat tunes. He also plays a bevy of styles with the band Ritch Collins Three-O, from jazz, blues and country to folk and show tunes.
Dobbs has performed abroad numerous times, including U.S. State Department trips to Africa.
"I remember being in Africa, sitting on an airstrip in Niger waiting for someone from the embassy to come pick me up and thinking about where I came from. And that I wouldn't be here if I had not played the fiddle."
"Then, I thought: Man! I should have practiced harder."
"A Country Fiddler" is available at Taylor Books, Tamarack, the Culture Center Shop, the Huntington Museum Gift Shop, the Red Caboose Shop in Huntington's Heritage Village and through Amazon.com. For more on the 1937 Flood, visit www.1937flood.com.
Reach Douglas Imbrogno at doug...@cnpapers.com or 304-348-3017.