Alvis Edgar “Buck” Owens, Jr. died on March 25, 2006, at the age of 77, he was an American musician, singer, songwriter and band leader.
Born on a farm in Sherman, Texas on August 12, 1929, to Alvis Edgar Owens, Sr. and his wife, Maicie Azel Ellington. Owens co-hosted a radio show called Buck and Britt in 1945.
In the late 1940s he became a truck driver and drove through the San Joaquin Valley of California.
He was impressed by Bakersfield, where he and his wife settled in 1951.
Soon, Owens was frequently travelling to Hollywood for session recording jobs at Capitol Records, playing backup for Tennessee Ernie Ford, Wanda Jackson, Tommy Collins, Tommy Duncan, Sonny James, Del Reeves, Tommy Sands, Faron Young and Gene Vincent, and many others.
In early 1963, the Johnny Russell song “Act Naturally” was pitched to Owens, who initially didn’t like it, but his guitarist and long time collaborator, Don Rich, enjoyed it and convinced Owens to record it, which he did with the Buckaroos, on February 12, 1963.
It was released on March 11 and entered the charts of April 13. By June 15 the single began its first of four non-consecutive weeks at the No. 1 position.
It was Owens’ first No. 1 hit.
The Beatles later recorded a cover of it in 1965, with Ringo Starr as lead singer.
Ringo Starr later re-recorded the song as a duet with Owens in 1988.
In 1971, the Buckaroos’ bass guitarist Doyle Holly left the band to pursue a solo career.
Holly was known for his solo ballads with his trademark booming deep voice on Buck Owens and the Buckaroos albums.
His departure was a setback to the band, as Doyle had received the Bass Player of the Year award from the Academy of Country Music the year before in 1970 and served as co-lead vocalist (along with Don Rich) of the Buckaroos.
Holly went on to record two solo records in the early 1970s, both were top 20 hits.
Holly has subsequently been honoured in the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and with a block in the Walkway of Stars at the Country Music Hall of Fame.
Owens (along with other artists like Merle Haggard and Tommy Collins) was credited with developing “The Bakersfield Sound” a rock-influenced interpretation of classic country music.
As a result of the popularity of “The Bakersfield Sound,” Owens achieved his greatest success during the 1960s, during which he toured and recorded extensively.
In 1969, he was introduced to television audiences when he signed on as host of the variety show Hee Haw.
During his 15-year-run on Hee Haw, Owens continued to record music, though his album sales significantly declined.
Owens remained out of the public eye throughout the mid-1980s, but staged an unlikely comeback with his 1988 collaboration with up-and-coming country singer Dwight Yoakam.
The duo re-recorded Owen”s 1972 song “Streets of Bakersfield,” which reached the top of the charts and marked Owen”s first No. 1 hit since 1972.
The following year, he returned to the stage and released the albums Hot Dog! and Live at Carnegie Hall (a reissue of his 1966 concert).