Sunday, March 26, 2006
I just saw on Booksteve’s Library that Country singer and Hee Haw star Alvis Edgar “Buck” Owens died. Now Steve admits to not liking country music except for Buck Owens. I didn’t like country music either as a young boy. That is really unusual as I grew up in the country till I was about 13 years old. We lived across the street from a bar and fishing lake that played country tunes from people like Eddie Arnold and Jim Reeves among others. However, Mr. Owens music was not among them so I never heard of him until “Hee Haw” hit the airwaves. I had heard of Roy Clark and some of the other cast members but Mr. Owens came out of nowhere, at least to me, to be the co-star of a variety program. Mom and Dad told me he had hit records on the country charts and as time went on I found that to be true. He was known as a pioneer of the Bakersfield style of country music. It is ironic that the last song I remember hearing from him was called “Bakersfield.” Mr. Owens even has a link to the Beatles and the Monkees. His hit song “Act Naturally” was covered by the Beatles with Ringo singing lead. He and Micky Dolenz of the Monkees were two of the first people to own a moog synthizer in the USA. Not strong links but links none the less. It is understandable that Mr. Dolenz would get one as he was in a pop rock band and learned to play it very well for sound effects on songs like “Daily Nightly” and “Star Collector.” Country music didn’t sound as pop as it does today. So it surprised a lot that a country star like Mr. Owens got one. “Hee Haw” started out on network television as the country answer to “Laugh In.” “Laugh In” Ran from 1968 to 1973 on NBC with a brief try to bring it back in 1979 that failed. “Hee Haw” got the last laugh. It ran on CBS from 1969 to 1971. Normally for a TV show back then that would have been the last it would have been heard from. CBS canceled shows that had rural sittings as the audiences with more money were living in the suburbs and cities. “Hee Haw” however was one of the first shows to go into first run syndication and one of syndications biggest hits. The show ran until 1993. I remember watching the show when I was in elementary school. Then years I was waiting one night for a college buddy to pick me up I was watching it and it struck me that the show was on almost my entire life. That was in 1983. Mr. Owens left the show in 1986. It continued with Roy Clark as the solo host and in its 24 years it made Buck and Roy’s stars shine brighter and made stars of the Hager Twins, Archie Campbell, Grandpa Jones, Junior Samples, Lulu Roman, Kenny Price and others. It even spun off another show called the “Hee Haw Honeys.” That is something that “Laugh In” never did. “Hee Haw” and “Hee Haw Honeys” was also the first time that America started its love/hate relationship with Kathie Lee Johnson later known as Kathie Lee Gifford.
As I said before I was not a fan of country music as a young boy. I liked things like the Beatles, the Beach Boys, and the Monkees. Then as I got older a funny thing happened. A lot of those groups broke up and some of them did country music. We all know that Nesmith had a successful country music career. Ringo Starr released a country album as did Gordon of Peter and Gordon. Even the Bees Gees and Paul McCartney have done at least one country song. With all that I started to listen to country music. My Dad heard me one day listening to Mike Nesmith and the first National Band. He said I didn’t know that you liked country music and I told him well I like his music. I started remembering sitting on the front porch as a little boy listening to the music waft across the street as I enjoyed listening to it. I remembered watching Hee Haw and watching Loretta Lynn and Conway Twitty and others. I found out that I had always liked country music. I had just been in denial. It got even more popular in the 1980’s as America was taken over by the Urban Cowboy era. It is sad that Buck Owens passed away. He left a legacy of good music and a lot of laughs and fun. I hope he is in Heaven pickin’ and grinnin’.
The above photo I got from this site.