When I was a youngster, one of the family traditions was gathering around the television to watch Hee Haw. The show, which started in 1969, featured country music artists performing their hits, as well as songs by members of the ensemble cast. My younger sister an I, unfamiliar with the music being played, would enjoy it during a song when a chorus line of animated dancing pigs would come out in the middle of the song.
The show as hosted by two talented country music artists, Roy Clark, one of the best stringed musicians America has ever produced, and Buck Owens. Both had been successful in their own right, but television brought them into America's living rooms. And it will be unfortunate that these two will be remembered for the cornpone country show, as opposed to their successes as recording artists and musicians. For Buck Owens, country music legend, passed away today at the age of 76.
Buck had a string of 20 number one hits, is perhaps best known (aside from the tv show), for his hit, "Act Naturally", which was later covered by the Beatles. He was also immortalized in John Fogerty's "Lookin' Out My Back Door", recorded by Creedence Clearwater Revival. He also recorded a song with Dwight Yoakam in 1988, "The Streets Of bakersfield"
Growing up, I had no use for country music. My music was rock and roll, so I overlooked a lot of artists from many different genres. It wasn't until I had kids of my own that I began to explore different genres, including country music, discovering a Buck Owens Greatest hits set at a flea market in 1998. It was the setting aside of my preconceived notions of what "good" music was that forced me to set aside any preconceived notions I may have held elsewhere.
And so, it is today that I give a great big unbrainwashed salute to a true American hero.