Sunday, October 15, 2006

Number 768 - Buck Owens

Number 768

Buck Owens

"Act Naturally"


I first heard of "Act Naturally" when Ringo recorded it for the Beatles way back last century sometime. Buck Owens was the Keith Urban of the 60s and was very highly regarded by his fellow musicians. Unfortunately, this year we lost another great Artist.
August 12, 1929 – March 25, 2006
"Buck Owens, along with Merle Haggard, was the leader of the Bakersfield sound, a twangy, electricified, rock-influenced interpretation of hardcore honky tonk that emerged in the '60s. Owens was the first bona fide country star to emerge from Bakersfield, scoring a total of 15 consecutive number one hits in the mid-'60s. In the process, he provided an edgy alternative to the string-laden country-pop that was being produced during the '60s. Later in his career, his musical impact was forgotten by some as he became a television personality through the country comedy show Hee Haw. Nevertheless, several generations of musicians -- from Gram Parsons in the late '60s to Dwight Yoakam in the '80s -- were influenced by his music, which wound up being one of the blueprints for modern country music."
"Owens' first number one single, "Act Naturally," arrived in the spring of 1963. "Act Naturally" elevated Buck from a successful singer into stardom, starting a streak of 15 consecutive number one singles. Its follow-up single, "Love's Gonna Live Here," became his biggest hit, spending 16 weeks at number one. "My Heart Skips a Beat," released in the spring of 1964, was nearly as successful, spending seven weeks at the top of the charts. It was replaced at the top by its B-side, "Together Again"; later that year, "I Don't Care (Just as Long as You Love Me)" spent six weeks at number one."
"While Owens had a dedicated country following, he also had picked up a number of pop and rock fans as well. Not only did the Beatles cover "Act Naturally" on their 1965 Help! album, but in the fall of 1968, Owens headlined and sold out two concerts at the legendary rock & roll venue Fillmore West. Owens continued to experiment musically, as evidenced by the two 1969 number one singles, "Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass" and "Tall Dark Stranger." In the summer of 1969, Owens' second television show, Hee Haw, premiered. Hee Haw was the concept of two Canadian TV producers, who envisioned it as a down-home, country version of the popular Laugh-In. Owens was hired as its host, and he brought on singer/guitarist Roy Clark as a co-host. Owens only had to tape the show twice a year -- once in June and once in October -- and his segments were spread throughout the season's shows. Initially, the show was just a summer replacement for The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, but its summer run was so successful that CBS scheduled it for the fall. As Hee Haw became more popular, so did Owens. In the span of just over a year -- December 1969 to February 1971 -- Capitol released no less than nine Owens albums, including reissues and three new studio records. During that time, he continued to chart in the Top Ten with regularity, as "The Kansas City Song" peaked at number two in the summer of 1970 and "I Wouldn't Live in New York City (If They Gave Me the Whole Dang Town)" reached the Top Ten at the end of the year"
Owens was out of public view for the early and mid-'80s, which is when a new generation of country singers was developing. Like Buck in the '60s, they stood in opposition to the pop-inflected country of Nashville, building their sound on the Bakersfield country of Owens and Haggard. One of the leading performers of the new traditionalists, Dwight Yoakam, persuaded Owens to join him on a re-recording of Buck's 1972 song "Streets of Bakersfield." After they performed it on a CBS television special, the duo recorded the song, releasing it in the summer of 1988. "Streets of Bakersfield" became a major hit, reaching number one; it was the first time since 1972 that Owens had a number one hit. Its success spurred him back into the recording studio, where he made a new album called Hot Dog! It was a moderate success and it re-energized Owens. He assembled a new version of the Buckaroos and continued to perform and record, including a duet of "Act Naturally" with Ringo Starr.".
"Owens didn't record or perform frequently in the '90s, but his classic Capitol recordings began to appear on compact disc; they hadn't been in print since 1980, when he gained control of the tapes from Capitol. Furthermore, Owens' influence continued to reverberate throughout country music as well as some quarters of rock & roll. Owens was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1993 and was hospitalized for pneumonia in 1997; in 2006, he passed away at age 76 in his Bakersfield home." ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
For Ringo Starr see Number 901
For the Beatles see Number 947 & Number 894
For Keith Urban see Number 779
What does Rolling Stone Magazine think about Buck Owens?.....
"After a string of hits, including "Together Again," "My Heart Skips a Beat" and "Love's Gonna Live Here," Owens abandoned the music scene for ten years before returning with another Number One song in 1988, "Streets of Bakersfield," with Dwight Yoakam. During his hiatus, Owens indulged in other business interests including a TV station in Bakersfield, and radio stations in both Bakersfield and Phoenix."

Rolling Stone Top 500 Songs ranked this song at Number (Not a mention) and the Album ranked at Number (Kaff)
This song has a total crowbarred rating of 65.4 out of 108
Act Naturally
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