Country Music Singer, Composer, Entrepreneur. He was born Alvis Edgar Owens Jr. in Sherman, Texas to a sharecropper family of ten. They mirrored the mythical family in "The Grapes of Wrath." Caught up in the Dust Bowl, a weather phenomena which plagued the Southwest portion of the US in the twenties, Alvis then eight and the rest of the family with their meager possessions headed west. Home happened where the car broke down which was Mesa, Arizona. The youngster would quit school at thirteen to work in the fields. He had acquired a cheap mandolin learning to self play by listening to the radio and then did the same with the guitar and other instruments. At age sixteen, he was performing in clubs and on the radio. In 1951, the oil rich city of Bakersfield, California a hot bed for country-western music and home to many famous performers became his destination and hometown. He found success working nights at the Blackboard Club then commuted during the day to studios in Los Angeles where he worked as a backup musician. After signing a contract with Capitol Records in 1957, Owens was on his way to become America's top country singer in the 1960's. He formed his own band, "The Buckaroos." He wrote many of his own hits and composed several songs popularized by other singers, such as "Cryin' Time" recorded by Ray Charles. During his career, Buck would have 45 songs in the country Top-10 and numerous number one hits..."I've Got a Tiger by the Tail" "Act Naturally" "Love's Gonna Live Here" "Together Again" and "Waiting' in Your Welfare Line." His schedule was grueling as Owens performed almost every night of the year. He had smash performances at Carnegie Hall, the London Palladium and the White House at the invitation of President Johnson. With Roy Clark, he would co-host the slapstick country comedy show "Hee-haw on television from 1969 to 1986 while simultaneously performing in a syndicated television series "Buck Owens' Ranch Show." He had varied business enterprises concentrated in Bakersfield and Arizona...from real estate, television and radio stations to his Bakersfield's jewel, a nightclub called "Buck Owens' Crystal Palace" where he performed regularly. His three trips to the altar all ended in divorce. His health began to wain after being diagnosed with cancer in 1993, pneumonia in 1997 and a stroke in 2004. He continued to perform at his Bakersfield nightclub, restaurant and museum. His last performance completed, Buck Owens would retire to his North Bakersfield ranch and pass away peacefully in his sleep from a heart attack. A public wake was held at the Crystal Palace then some 2,000 family, friends, fans and fellow performers gathered at the Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield to bid farewell to Owens. He was interred in an elaborate above ground mausoleum at Greenlawn Cemetery, Bakersfield. His first wife Bonnie Campbell Owens upon her death was cremated and the urn placed in the Owens mausoleum. Honors, Awards and facts...He was elected to both the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of fame in 1996. U.S. Highway 82 which passes through Sherman, Texas, his hometown, was named "Buck Owens Freeway" in his honor and one will find 'Buck Owens Blvd" in Bakersfield. Buck and the Buckaroos toured Japan in 1967. The music performed became a live best selling album, "Buck Owens in Japan." A children's book "Freight Train Running" by Linda Stacey was published in 2006. It is a biography of Owen's life before his stardom days. A bit of unusual trivia: Still a toddler at his family's share cropper home in Texas, he was enamored with the family mule named "Buck." Alvis would demand to be called by the same name. His family complied and he became "Buck" for the rest of his life.
Bio by: Donald Greyfield