Alvis Edgar "Buck" Owens (1929-2006) was a Country Music
singer. He was a pioneer of the "Bakersfield sound", an electric guitar-driven Three Chords and the Truth
style, often relying on his band, the Buckaroos. The "Bakersfield sound" was later seen in artists like Merle Haggard
(who later married Owens' ex-wife, Bonnie Campbell) and Dwight Yoakam
. Frequent collaborators included Susan Raye, Rose Maddox, and son Buddy Alan.
Owens was also the host of the long-running country music comedy show Hee Haw
. Lesser known but having a cult following was Owens' previous series, "The Ranch," which ran from 1966-1973, the last four of which ran concurrently with Hee Haw
Tropes present in Buck's work:
- Christmas Songs: He released two full-length Christmas albums, in 1965 and 1968. "Santa Looked a Lot Like Daddy", from the former, is one of the most recognizable and most covered in the genre.
- Five Stages of Grief: Don Rich was the man that helped Buck perfect his trademark Bakersfield Sound and served as the leader of the Buckaroos, which backed Buck throughout his career. He was Buck's best friend. On July 17, 1974, Don lost his life in a motorcycle accident ... and Buck's life changed for many years. For almost a decade, Buck was stuck in the first stage — deep, deep denial — and it barely got to the third (anger and deep depression). It very nearly destroyed his career ... Buck seemed content with his other close friend, Roy Clark, doing Hee Haw while recording music that was anything but the country music fans knew him for. Buck eventually recovered from his grief when Dwight Yoakam came along, but things were never the same for the originator of the Bakersfield Sound.
- Genre Adultery: His music was mainly country, but every now and then he'd throw a curveball such as the fuzztone in "Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass." He also caught flack for recording songs that some critics said were not country songs, examples being 1969's "Johnny B. Goode," which Owens did rockabilly style; and a 1971 cover of Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water," which was given a country gospel arrangement. Owens responded to criticism he was breaking a pledge he had made some years earlier (that he would never record a song that wasn't a country song) by saying he vowed only to not record in a pop country vein, not that he wouldn't record rockabilly or other accepted country styles.
- Owens' pledge to record only pure country music went completely out the window in the late 1970s when – still in a haze of grief over the 1974 death of his best friend Don Rich – he began recording music in a pop country style. It was for Warner Bros. Records, for whom he recorded from 1976 to 1981; although the music itself wasn't terrible, it was also devoid of the signature Buck Owens sound, something he himself has pointed out. To his credit, he blamed only himself for what he considered to be his worst music, and only one of his songs from his Warner Bros. era – "Play Together Again, Again," a duet he recorded with Emmylou Harris and just missed the top 10 of the country charts in 1979 – remains in print today.
- Notable Music Videos: "Tall Dark Stranger" and "Big In Vegas," both 1969, were among the first in the genre.
- Rerelease the Song: In 1989, he re-recorded "Act Naturally" as a duet with Ringo Starr, followed immediately by a re-recording of hs 1965 hit "Gonna Have Love".
- Self-Deprecation: "You Aint Gonna Have Ol' Buck to Kick Around No More" in 1973.
- Spiritual Successor: Dwight Yoakam, to Don Rich. He helped restore Buck to his old vitality and self, and gave him renewed purpose.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: "Sweet Rosie Jones" and its sequel "Tall Dark Stranger".
- Vocal Evolution: His delivery became very slurred after he had throat cancer removed in 1993.