Saturday, March 25, 2006

Buck Owens 1929-2006

It's not without reason that I'm the Cracker. I grew up on WLS top 40 and Saturday afternoon country music shows, and I remember when Buck Owens was the only country act that was played on the Big 89 in the 1960s.

He defined country music's Bakersfield sound, hewn in the dance halls of California in the areas north of Los Angeles. Along with producer Ken Nelson in the record-shaped buildings of Capitol Records in LA, Buck and the Buckaroos broke out hits like "Act Naturally" (later covered by the Beatles),
"Tiger By The Tail", "Love's Gonna Live Here", and his biggest hit, "Together Again".

He toured constantly until he became the co-host of Hee Haw with Roy Clark in 1969, and he stayed with the show through 1986. However, his music was never the same after his close friend and lead guitarist Don Rich was killed in a motorcyle accident in 1974. Rich was a great complement to Owens, and it took a lot out of him.

(CORRECTION - I had earlier said the wreck was in 1971, mea culpa!)

He experienced a renaissance of sorts in 1988 on his duet with Dwight Yoakam, "Streets of Bakersfield" as people rediscovered the Bakersfield style through Yoakam.

Due to smart investments like TV and Radio station, Buck was able to retire to Bakersfield, and played at his own place, the Crystal Palace on occasion.

He was a legend, and he will be missed.


Richmond said...

I remember Owens on "Hee Haw" late Saturday afternoons at 6 on WLAC in Nashville. I didn't like the show as a boy, but I grew to like country music as an indispensable part of Southern and American culture, representing something beyond itself--a type of myth as it were. Buck Owens was a part of that representation and, as you said, will be missed. Thanks for noting his passing.

Deb said...

I didn't like the show "Hee Haw"; and I don't care for country music very much either. But I do remember watching my Dad laugh heartily at every corny joke Buck told (and he liked the music, too). And for that, I thank him.

Rest in peace, Buck.