Buck Owens was a non-stop touring machine (sound familiar?) on the country music circuit long before he became an American TV icon from hosting Hee Haw with Roy Clark and Minnie Pearl. Buck and his Buckaroos played every opry, state fair and roadhouse after his first big hit in 1959, after a string of commercial failures.
The song that broke Buck big was called “Under Your Spell Again” and featured a different arrangement than his previous country pop styles. Buck was able to incorporate a pedal steel and fiddle into his country chorale group sound and it took off on radio playlists all over the Southwest. Climbing to number four, the single began a streak of Top Ten singles that ran more of less uninterrupted into the ’70s. After “Under Your Spell Again” became a success, Owens moved back to Bakersfield, where he and fellow guitar player Merle Haggard were instrumental in creating the “Bakersfield Sound” which relied heavily on a solid body guitar created by Leo Fender called a Telecaster.
This change was evident in Owens’ two Top Ten hits in 1962, “Kickin’ Our Hearts Around” and “You’re for Me.” Instead of being the shuffling honky tonk numbers that had been Owens’ signature, the songs were bright, driving tracks in 2/4 that showed a hint of rock & roll influence.
In 2006, Buck played a show at his Bakersfield restaurant, excused himself partway through the set, went home and died in his sleep of a heart attack.
This video doesn’t have an actual live performance of Owens, but it does feature the original standard that’s been covered and imitated many times over. If you can’t get it to play here, just visit this YouTube link. Enjoy, truck drivers!
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