Posted:  Nov. 14, 2013

Buck 'Em! by Randy Poe  (Book). Buck 'Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens is the life story of a country music legend. Born in Texas and raised in Arizona, Buck eventually found his way to Bakersfield, California. Unlike the vast majority of country singers, songwriters, and musicians who made their fortunes working and living in Nashville, the often rebellious and always independent Owens chose to create his own brand of country music some 2,000 miles away from Music City racking up a remarkable twenty-one number one hits along the way. In the process he helped give birth to a new country sound and did more than any other individual to establish Bakersfield as a country music center. In the latter half of the 1990s, Buck began working on his autobiography. Over the next few years, he talked into the microphone of a cassette tape machine for nearly one hundred hours, recording the story of his life. With his near-photographic memory, Buck recalled everything from his early days wearing hand-me-down clothes in Texas to his glory years as the biggest country star of the 1960s; from his legendary Carnegie Hall concert to his multiple failed marriages; from his hilarious exploits on the road to the tragic loss of his musical partner and best friend, Don Rich; from his days as the host of a local TV show in Tacoma, Washington, to his co-hosting the network television show Hee Haw; and from his comeback hit, "Streets of Bakersfield," to his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In these pages, Buck also shows his astute business acumen, having been among the first country artists to create his own music publishing company. He also tells of negotiating the return of all of his Capitol master recordings, his acquisition of numerous radio stations, and of his conceiving and building the Crystal Palace, one of the most venerated musical venues in the country. Buck 'Em! is the fascinating story of the life of country superstar Buck Owens from the back roads of Texas to the streets of Bakersfield.


     This book has a lot of information about Buck Owens. Starts from his birth, how his mom and dad got together, and after a few years they ended up in Texas. Part of the family moved to California and some to Washington. Then goes into him getting married having two children and trying to get into the music scene. Playing in small bands and bowling alleys and dance halls. I guess that is where people gathered during the 40’s and 50’s for dances.

     He finally moved to Washington and got a job at a radio station and started another band. After about a year they were on their way to perform and needed another person for their band when someone brought Don Rich along. This would be a partnership from 57 to 73 when Don Rich passed away from a motorcycle accident. By 58 he had settled in Bakersfield, CA. Making records, after not really having great sales after his first two he told Capitol that he would make his next record in Bakersfield, they agreed.

     Now 1963 his first album done the way he wanted to do it produced the first of twenty-one number one country singles from 63 to 72. The first being “Act Naturally”. Later this would become known as the Bakersfield sound. From there he would start his own publishing company, recording studio, all in Bakersfield not Nashville. He also was buying radio stations in Arizona, Washington and Bakersfield.

     In 1969 he was offered to co-host a new show “Hee- Haw”, he said the money was to great to pass up for not that much work. He was still selling records and his concerts were still sold out. He said “that while other singers were buying bass boats he was buying radio stations”. His songs were being recorded by the Beatles and Ray Charles, just to name a few. One of Ray Charles’ famous songs “Cry’n Time,” was written by Buck Owens.

     By the early 70’s his record contract was up for renewal at Capitol. He and his manger were able to get out of the contract by the mid 70’s and Capitol gave him all of masters. So, 20 years later when cd’s came out and he released his music it was his music.

     This was a great book for me because I heard his name when I was growing up and my grandparents would watch “Hee-Haw.” But then I actually moved to Bakersfield in the mid 80’s. Buck Owens did a lot for the town saved a local landmark for one, and his Crystal Palace which was his last dream. I was sad to read how Nashville turned their back on him but not the musicians’. Also it would have been interesting to know if Don Rich had not passed away how many more records they would have made. Because he said it took him years to get over that loss. Much more information in this book. A great read. I got this book from net- galley.

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