Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr., better known as Buck Owens, was an American singer and guitarist who had 21 number one hits on the Billboard country music charts with his band, the Buckaroos. They pioneered what came to be called the Bakersfield sound—a reference to Bakersfield, California, the city Owens called home and from which he drew inspiration for what he preferred to call American music.
While Owens originally used fiddle and retained pedal steel guitar into the 1970s, his sound on records and onstage was always more stripped-down and elemental, incorporating elements of rock and roll. His signature style was based on simple storylines, infectious choruses, a twangy electric guitar, an insistent rhythm supplied by a drum track placed forward in the mix, and high two-part harmonies featuring Owens and his guitarist Don Rich.
Beginning in 1969, Owens co-hosted the TV series Hee Haw with Roy Clark. He left the cast in 1986, convinced that the show’s exposure had obscured his musical legacy. In 1974, the accidental death of Rich, his best friend, devastated him for years and abruptly halted his career until he performed with Dwight Yoakam in 1988. Owens died on March 25, 2006 shortly after performing at his Crystal Palace restaurant, club and museum in Bakersfield.
Owens is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.