Skip to comments.Buck Owens: Legend laid to rest
Posted on 04/03/2006 10:21:03 AM PDT by BurbankKarl
Michael Owens thinks he knows what his father would have said if he'd had a chance to size things up at Valley Baptist Church Sunday afternoon.
"So," Owens' 56-year-old son said, surveying the full house as he imagined his famous father might have, "you came to see ol' Buck."
They did indeed, a good 2,000 of them. Fans, employees, business associates, music-business elite -- the people he'd touched in a half-century as a chart-topping megastar, weekly TV host, industry icon and civic booster without peer. Thousands more watched from home or listened via radio or the Internet.
They praised Owens, who died March 25 of heart failure at age 76, as irascible and fun-loving, driven and dedicated, plain-spoken but visionary.
"I don't think most people are aware of what a contribution to the sound of country music Buck had," said country star Trace Adkins, who was on hand to sing "Wayfaring Stranger."
Owens' sons Johnny, Mike, Buddy and his nephew Mel Jr. -- who ran his Bakersfield media empire and whom the other three regarded as a fourth brother -- each addressed the congregation.
Buddy, who had a recording career of his own as Buddy Alan, spoke of ex-military men telling him, "I'd never have made it through Vietnam if it wasn't for Buck Owens." He told of countless others telling him about a family ritual -- watching "Hee Haw."
He mentioned his father's "corny jokes" and frequent "weaseling out" of debts incurred in their friendly little sports wagers.
Buck's favorite golf club was the "foot wedge," brother Mike noted, a reference to his father's loose interpretation of the rules of the game.
Mel Owens joked about his uncle's firm handle on the family business rudder. He recalled one particular company retreat, where it was suggested that Mel and the brothers vote on a proposed course of action. "You boys go ahead and vote," Mel recalled Buck having said. "And when you're done voting, do it the way I told you."
Johnny Owens spoke of his father's affection for his adopted city, his home since 1951. "He loved Bakersfield," Owens said. "He would always live in Bakersfield, and the people who lived here were his family."
The performers on hand praised Owens as a guiding hand on the industry and on the generations of musicians that followed his.
Dwight Yoakam, balding considerably on top, apologized to the congregation -- and to his own mother -- for donning his low-slung cowboy hat in church to sing the hymn "In the Garden." It no doubt would have been OK with Owens.
Buck, he explained, had told him he looked good in the hat and that he should try not take to it off "as much as you have been."
Yoakam thanked Owens for his friendship and for the opportunity to do so on behalf of all the other musicians who'd been inspired by him -- the vast majority of whom never had the chance to thank Owens themselves.
Brad Paisley flew in from Memphis, Tenn., where he had performed Saturday night, for an unscheduled tribute: his current hit "When I Get To Where I'm Going."
"I never thought I'd be singing this for my friend," Paisley said.
Herb Pedersen and Chris Hillman opened the service with the Byrds' "Turn, Turn, Turn," a song based on Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 of the Bible.
John Berry sang the hymn "Blessed Assurance." Former KUZZ disc jockey Larry Daniels gave the eulogy and the Rev. Roger Spradlin the concluding message.
Lulu Roman, who appeared with Owens on "Hee Haw," closed the service with "Amazing Grace."
Among the guests were country music star Garth Brooks, local performers Monty Byrom, Rick "Reno" Stevens and Bobby Durham, and Austin's Casper Rawls, who has helped organize an annual Buck Owens Birthday Bash that draws dozens of performers to a small club in the Texas capital every August.
After a private burial that was to take place later Sunday, the family threw a party at the Crystal Palace dinner club for employees and family.
Among the highlights was a "Streets of Bakersfield" duet with Yoakam and Buddy Owens.
Was vaugely aware of Buck many times. I wasn't watching him, but he was always on... Saturday nights, at my girlfriend's parent's house.
what's Roy Clark doing these days?
thank you very much for posting this. I really appreciate being able to read the details of Buck Owens' send-off. I'm glad it was a big "do". He deserved it.
Hee Haw was one of those shows that we never set out to watch, but always seemed to be on TV Sunday night. Reading about Buck brings back memories of my childhood watching that corny show that you hate to admit you watched.
May Buck rest in peace.
Made my day....thank you!
Thanks for that link...a beautiful tribute.
RIP Buck Owens.