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Buck Owens
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Buck Owens

Buck Owens (born August 12, 1929) is an American Country singer who defined the gritty "Bakersfield sound."

Owens was born in Sherman, Texas, the son of sharecroppers. He was named for a family horse (or a mule — reports seem to vary). During the Dust Bowl of the Great Depression, in 1937, his family left Texas for California. Their trailer hitch broke in Arizona, and there they stayed.

Owens worked the fields, self-teaching himself many instruments. In the late 1940s, he began running produce between Arizona and the San Joaquin Valley of California, and was impressed by Bakersfield, finally settling there to work the gritty honky tonks populated by Bakersfield's oil workers. He developed a reputation as one of the best pickers around.

Unlike many fellow artists, Owens avoided drugs and drink, living as a quiet family man. He was a co-host of the comedy show Hee Haw for seventeen years.

Owens was a rebel at heart doing his music his way, shunning the conventions of Nashville. Health problems such as a stroke and cancer of the tongue have drastically limited his musical activity in the 2000s, but he still occasionally performs in Bakersfield and, on rare occasions, elsewhere in California.

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