Buck Owens: 1929-2006

We lost an American treasure this morning — Buck Owens has died and I am really sad about it.

Yes. . . .When I was a kid growing up in North Carolina, I watched Buck Owens on Hee Haw every Saturday night with my family like just about everyone I knew (seriously), but I didn’t really know much about him beyond his famous red, white, and blue guitar.

Despite being absolutely surrounded by it (and perhaps because of that), I hated country music growing up. When I was young, it just seemed silly. When I was an adolescent, it just seemed hopelessly corny and dated. I would complain whenever my mom put on her Loretta Lynn records and she would defend her music mightily, saying, “this music is about real life.” I don’t know if it was moving out of my native South to California or just getting older, but over the past ten years, I’ve grown to love country music. If you put my iTunes collection on shuffle, you’re just as likely to get Hank Williams (Sr.), Buck Owens, or Loretta Lynn as you are to get anything else.

Over the past few years particularly, I had really grown to love Buck Owens. Buck’s song “Love’s Gonna Live Here” lifted my spirits on many occasions after a painful breakup a few years ago (a little bit of the “real life” my mother had told me about):

Oh the sun’s gonna shine in my life once more
Love’s gonna live here again
Things’re gonna be the way they were before
Love’s gonna live here again
Love’s gonna live here
Love’s gonna live here
Love’s gonna live here again
No more loneliness only happiness
Love’s gonna live here again

I was fortunate to see Buck play live twice in the past few years: once in a ridiculously poorly-attended show with Loretta Lynn (before the kids became hip to her due to her Jack White collaboration) at the Masonic in San Francisco back in 2002 (the place was 2/3 empty), and then last April at the Crystal Palace, Buck’s restaurant in Bakersfield where he played every Friday and Saturday night.

That trip with Nancy to the Crystal Palace was a landmark experience. It was so unlike going to see a famous country musician in San Francisco, where such events can be so bathed in hipster irony that sometimes it’s difficult to connect to the music. It was different in Bakersfield. At the Crystal Palace in April, Nancy and I watched Buck Owens and his Buckaroos play while we ate steak and pork chops and drank beer. We watched grandparents dance with each other, and dads dance with their daughters, and we even got in on the action ourselves. Real life — just a Saturday night in Bakersfield.

One unfortunate thing about Buck’s death it is that I had been talking with my mother about taking her to see Buck in Bakersfield really soon (Nancy had been doing the same with her mother). You see, my mother has never been on a plane and she decided recently that she needed to try flying to California to visit, and I had been holding out the visit to Bakersfield to see Buck Owens as the reward for her getting over her fear of flying. I told her about the steaks, the pork chops, the dancing, and seeing a true legend up close in his hometown. That would pretty much be heaven for my mother, and I was looking forward to giving her a distinctively Californian experience while sharing a mutual love of country music that didn’t exist when I was younger. We can still go to Bakersfield, but Buck won’t be there. The lesson in this applies to many things in life: there is no time like the present. Sometimes “later” never comes.

We’ll miss you, Buck. My thoughts and prayers are with your friends, family, and fans. Rest in peace.

15 thoughts on “Buck Owens: 1929-2006

  1. This is true that buck was the best of the best and I to feel like you do. I feel like there is a hole in the american heart. Me and My husband meat buck many differnet time some before we married and some after and this has made us feel like that we knew one of the best. God bless buck for all he did for all the people of kern country and all over the place. Thanks for this beautful writing that you did for him. The man is gone but the star never will be. Crystal & Al Garcia 404 F. St. Taft Ca.

  2. First, I want to say, I appreciate all of your comments on Buck Owens. I am from Buck’s home town of Bakersfield, California. I recently attended the funeral. I have been a Buck fan for years, and I am in the midst of recording an entire CD that will feature original songs about the life, death, and music of Buck Owens. Here are a few samples, if you care to hear them:

    The Place You Used to Play
    Words and music by Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT ©2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.com/music/theplacehe.mp3" /]

    Words and music by Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT ©2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.com/music/starbuckaroo.mp3" /]

    The Last Time I Saw Buck Owens
    Words and music by Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT ©2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.com/music/lastimebuck.mp3" /]

    Thanks again for remembering Buck with your comments!

    aka Dr. BLT
    AKA Dr. BLT

  3. Here’s one for you Buck fans who are a little younger, and a little more into experimental music. This is a rap/country fusion (aka hick hop) and it’s called:

    BYOB (Bring Yer Own Buck)
    words and music by Bruce L. Thiessen, aka Dr. BLT (c)2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.com/music/byobuck.mp3" /]

  4. I’d love to hear from some of you fellow Buck Owens fans. So far, it looks like this comment section is becoming my own personal song shrine, but I’d rather share it with the rest of you who also may have a song, a poem, or a story to share about Buck Owens.

    In the mean time, here’s the only song featured on my Confessions of a Buckaholic CD that Buck Owens actually heard, and liked. That’s the word I got from Buckaroo, keyboard player, and Buck’s then business manager, Jim Shaw after I sent a rough cassette recording of the song to Jim and he played it for Buck.

    Of course, back then, the song was called, “The Buck Stops Here.” Now it’s entitled, “The Buck Stopped Here,” but perhaps I should have kept the first title, since his spirit will always be with us.

    The Buck Stopped Here
    words and music by Bruce L. Thiessen, aka, Dr. BLT (c)2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.com/music/buckstop.mp3" /]

  5. I was fortunate to be in the company of many of the musicians that worked with buck, but I never got to meet buck. I guess it just was not meant to be.. Buck, thank you for the music, and if anyone wants to talk about my years in Bakersfield and Nashville,, give me a hello,, bye buck, you kicked butt til the very end buddy…….Mark.

  6. I just wanted to say that my band gave buck a good going away presant at the cactus club in Fort Smith Arkansas when we sang a few of his tunes to a good drunken crowd. We sang Together again, Streets of Bakersfield, and I got a tiger by the tail. Gosh folks, You should have seen them all holler! Love ya Buck. Mark Tracy Owens.

  7. I understand that this has become quite a popular song shrine for Buck Owens fans and I apologize for the changed song links. Here are the new ones, and I’ve even thrown in a few bonus tracks.

    The Last Time I Saw Buck Owens
    words and music by Dr. BLT(c)2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/lastimebuck.mp3" /]

    Four Quarters Gets Me Two Buck Songs
    words and music by Dr. BLT(c)2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/fourquartersR.mp3" /]

    King of the Crystal Palace:
    words and music by Dr. BLT(c)2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/kingcrystalpal.mp3" /]

    The Place He Used to Play
    words and music by Dr. BLT(c)2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/theplacehe.mp3" /]

    and here’s one for Buck’s good friends, Merle:

    Merle Hasn’t Lost His Fighting Side
    (currently on playlist at WFMU in New York)
    words and music by Dr. BLT (c)2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/MerleVeryLast.mp3" /]

    and Johnny:

    The Ballad of Johnny and June
    words and music by Dr. BLT(c)2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/Johnnyandjune.mp3" /]

    (We) Still Miss Someone
    music/new lyrics adapted from Johnny Cash’s original
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/MissSomeone.mp3" /]

    aka Dr. BLT

  8. Hi, it’s me with an update. One of my songs about Buck has now become an unexpected internet hit, and it’s this one:

    Backin Up Buck
    Dr. BLT
    words and music by Dr. BLT (c)2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/BackBuck.mp3" /]

    Also, Buck has continued to have a powerful influence on my writing style. See if you can notice the influence in these new Christmas songs of mine:

    Christmas For Two
    Dr. BLT
    words and music by Dr. BLT (c) 2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/XmasForTwo.mp3" /]

    What Kind of Christmas Has This Become
    Dr. BLT
    words and music by Dr. BLT (c) 2006
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/WhatKindaXmas.mp3" /]

    Merry Christmas!

    Bruce L. Thiessen
    aka Dr. BLT

  9. The other day I was puttering around in the driveway shooting baskets with my son and I had this rambling tune in my head. I couldn’t think of the name of the song, just the melody. I hummed it for my wife…”No!” she said, I don’t know the name of it, but I’ve heard it before. I asked someone at work…same answer. It really bothered me until I finally thought ofthe name…BUCKAROO!

    I couldn’t believe it, that simple song driove me crazy. I started reading about Buck Owens and looking into who he was. More than just another country singer. I have to agreee that America, indeed the world lost a music talent the likes of which we will not see again.

    I want to believe that on the day of my final voyage I will be greeted at the pearly gates by Buck Owens and Don Rich as they smile at each other and pick away at their guitars. I wish that I had paid more attention to what a gift he was while he was still alive. I never saw Buck in concert, like Chad above I only saw him on TV in Hee Haw when I was growing up.

    I am going to go the Crystal Palace and take in the atmosphere and see what it might have been like. Damn I wish Icould have seen him and told himwhat great music he made.

    Rest in Peace Buck and thanks,

    Crivitz, Wisconsin

  10. Another song to add to the song shrine. It’s the worldwide release of Dr BLT’s Beatles ‘n’ Buck Love Medley.

    Beatles ‘n’ Buck Love Medley
    Dr BLT cover of Beatles and Buck Owens
    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/BeatlesBuckMedDemo2.mp3" /]

  11. Dear Bruce,

    I seen a 30 mins video of Buck Owens from a kid to a full
    grown man, I don’t rember where on the net.

    I like to have that video of Buck, do you know such links
    that have this video?

    Pl. help me to get this, so I can down load this
    and have it for my self.

    Thankyou for your time,
    Cyril Benny,

  12. i loved watching buck owens on hee haw my fav is 1969 new year episode when buck sang charlie brown on RFD channel.

  13. Lloyd McGarity used to reside in Bakersfield. But it wasn’t until he moved to Alabama that I met him online and he began to cover my material, and to co-write other songs with me.

    I was inspired to write this song by Homer Joy, my good friend who is on a waiting list for his second heart transplant, and the Homer Joy-penned classic, STREETS OF BAKERSFIELD that Buck Owens and Dwight Owens took to the top of the charts and won a Grammy with.

    Bakersfield-sound-grounded Alabama singer/songwriter was inspired to record a cover version of my song. Then, once St. Luis producer/one-man-band, Gary LaDuke, aka GL heard it, he was inspired to remix it, making it radio-friendly and dance-floor friendly as well.

    The question is, will this song inspire you, and do you think it has what it takes to climb the charts?

    I’m Dr. BLT. You’re playing Triple T. I supply the TOPIC and the TUNE. You provide the TALK. After listening to the sample, let me know what you think? Will this become a Kern County Christmas classic? If yes, why? If not, why? I eagerly await your feedback in the comments section, favorable or not, as long as it’s constructive. Let me know if I can quote you on facebook as well.

    It Never Snows (on the Streets of Bakersfield)

    Lloyd McGarity

    words and music by Bruce L Thiessen, aka Dr BLT

    copyright 2010

    [audio src="http://www.drblt.net/music/ItNeverSnowsLMglBLTdemom.mp3" /]

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