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Buck Owens Biography

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Birth Name: Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr.
Born: 1929/08/12
Birth Place: Sherman, Texas
Died: 2006/03/25
Years Active: 1945-2006
Genres: Country, Bakersfield Sound

Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr. was born on a farm in Sherman. Texas on August 12, 1929, and was a singer better known as Buck Owens, who amassed 21 #1 hit singles on the Billboard Country Music Charts throughout his career. Owens and his band, the Buckaroos developed their own unique sound that came to be known as the 'Bakersfield sound' by fans. Owens' musical style incorporated a fiddle, steel guitar, and elements of rock and roll. Owens got his start in the music business in 1945 when he co-hosted a radio show called 'Buck and Britt,' however Owens had set his sights on a career singing and moved to California in 1951. Once settled in Bakersfield, Owens picked up steady work as a session musician at Capitol Records, working with artists such as Tennessee Ernie Ford, Wanda Jackson, Tommy Collins, Tommy Duncan, Sonny James, Del Reeves, Tommy Sands, Faron Young and Gene Vincent. As the 50s progressed, Owens career took off, and by 1969 he was co-hosting the television series “Hee Haw with Roy Clark” and stayed with the show until 1986. Two years later in 1988, Owens performed with Dwight Yoakam, which generated new interest in his music. Owens died on March 25, 2006 after a performance at his Crystal Palace restaurant in Bakersfield, California.

Though Owens saw himself as a country music singer, he recorded a rockabilly record called “Hot Dog” for Pep Records under the pseudonym Corky Jones. Owens didn't want his rock n' roll leanings to hurt his growing country music fans. Owens career did not take off until the late 1950s, scoring a hit with 1959's “Second Fiddle,” which peaked at #24 on the Billboard Country Chart that year. Owen's followed up the hit single with two more hits: “Under Your Spell Again,” peaking at #4, and “Above and Beyond,” peaking at #3. As the 1960s rolled around, Owens music went against the norm; fusing honky tonk hillbilly sounds with Mexican polkas. 1963's “Act Naturally” earned Owens and his band the Buckaroo's his first #1 hit single. As Owens success grew, his music was able to crossover to the mainstream pop charts, which gained him international attention and fans.

Owens and his band embarked on a tour of Japan and recorded a live album in London in 1967, gaining fans in the U.K. The 1970s saw Owens and the Buckaroos enjoyed a string of hit duets with the singer Susan Raye, in addition to going through a number of line-up changes that left Owens and Don Rich the only original remaining members of Buck Owens and the Buckaroos. The 70s saw a number of hits for Owen's, however when tragedy struck in 1974 and Owen's best friend and line time band member, Don Rick was killed, Owen's stopped performing for a while and became reclusive with his grief. By the 1980s, Owens had stopped performing altogether, other than his performances on the television show he co-hosted. Dwight Yoakam, a longtime fan of Owens, convinced him to record a duet with him in 1998, “Streets of Bakersfield,” which became Owens' first #1 single in 16 years.

1999 saw Owens reform his old band with the remaining members of his original Buckaroo Band to celebrate his 70th birthday at Owens' Crystal Palace in Bakersfield. Owens, Doyle Holly, Tom Brumley, and Willie Cantu all performed. Owens was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, and passed away in his sleep in 2006 from a heart attack, hours after his last performance.