Buck Owens: The Biography

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Overview

Buck Owens was the top-selling country act of the 1960s, with more than thirty top ten singles and fifteen consecutive #1 hits. Inventor of the Bakersfield Sound, he was hugely popular not only with country fans but with rock fans too. The Beatles covered his songs; Gram Parsons idolized him; the Grateful Dead loved him. At least six marriages, several TV shows, and a publishing and media empire followed. And a number of current country stars, ranging from Dwight Yoakam to Marty...

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Buck Owens: The Biography

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Overview

Buck Owens was the top-selling country act of the 1960s, with more than thirty top ten singles and fifteen consecutive #1 hits. Inventor of the Bakersfield Sound, he was hugely popular not only with country fans but with rock fans too. The Beatles covered his songs; Gram Parsons idolized him; the Grateful Dead loved him. At least six marriages, several TV shows, and a publishing and media empire followed. And a number of current country stars, ranging from Dwight Yoakam to Marty Stuart, cite him as a major influence.

Yet never before has there been a book about Buck Owens. And the man that emerges from its pages is the polar opposite of the aw-shucks image he cultivated on Hee-Haw. A tight-fisted control freak with an outsized appetite for sex, Owens could be genial at one moment and ruthlessly cruel the next.

Buck Owens chronicles his rise from poverty as the son of a tenant farmer to one of the nation’s best-loved entertainers, worth at least $100 million when he died. It also reveals for the first time the circumstances surrounding the death of his bandleader, Don Rich. It is authoritative, counting among its myriad sources seven Buckaroos, the cohost and producer of Hee Haw, a former president and vice president of Capitol Records, numerous country singers, relatives, wives, lovers, and employees. This biography paints an unprecedented portrait of not only country’s biggest star of the ’60s, but perhaps its biggest son of a bitch.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"While Sisk reveals amazing details like the time Owens convinced a sheriff to deputize two of his crew so they could carry guns, and lurid episodes like sharing women with his bandmates, many of these stories are brief and to the point. . . . This is great for hard-core fans. . . . Because Sisk provides a more honest portrait of a country legend, her book is essential for readers interested in cultural musicology."  —Library Journal

"Hold on to your hats, country fans. This well-researched examination of the late 'Hee Haw' co-host and honky-tonk hit maker doesn’t tiptoe around the minefields. If you’re in the mood for an explosive, warts-and-all examination of Owens’ life, loves and career, this wild, eye-opening ride will really blow off your barn doors."  —American Profile

"The impeccable detail and research make [this book] very readable."  —Detroit Metro Times

"Meticulously researched and well-written."  —Sing Out

“Eileen Sisk’s fascinating but unsympathetic bio shreds the veil of secrecy surrounding the brilliant though tormented Owens to reveal a master manipulator with a heart of stone.”  —John Lomax III, author and former manager of Townes Van Zandt and Steve Earle

“Buck was one of the kings of country music but also a complicated man. This biography tells why.”  —Michael Streissguth, author, Johnny Cash: The Biography

 

“Sisk captures the real Buck. I knew him. I experienced the weird weaknesses. I witnessed the anger. [Sisk] is a tremendous writer. She has the guts, she has the ‘perfect subject,’ and she’s overstocked with talent. Her book is dynamite—a masterpiece, a sure-fire winner.”  —Bill Mack, host of Country Crossroads

"This biography should be required reading for any serious country music fan. Meticulously researched, it is the revealing saga of one of the genre's most flamboyant stars."  —Patsi Bale Cox, author, The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country’s Big Boom

Publishers Weekly
Sisk (Honky-Tonks: Guide to Country Dancin' and Romancin') opens with a warm dedication and a note of thanks to the late country star Buck Owens. In the subsequent 56 chapters, however, she paints a picture of Owens as a megalomaniacal, sex-addicted, song-stealing skinflint, likening him at times to a vampire, a man who once belittled a 10-year-old who played guitar for him. Owens was born in Texas in 1929, but made the migration west during the Depression, settling in Bakersfield, Calif., developing a distinct sound with songs like "Act Naturally" that consistently put him atop country music charts in the 1960s. A shrewd businessman, he later became widely known for cohosting the long-running TV show Hee Haw. Owens, who died in 2006, cooperated with Sisk for three years in the late 1990s on an authorized biography before nixing the agreement. The stories of Owens as the Caligula of country music have compelling potential, but Sisk's narrative is plodding. Although the book is billed as a biography of Owens, he is kept at a distance, and the reader learns very little about his music or his side of the story. Sisk instead focuses on what those close to Owens told her about his behavior. Sadly, the Bakersfield sound that made Owens famous and influenced many gets short shrift in this tiresome exposé. (Aug.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781613743355
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/1/2012
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 644,134
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 8.82 (h) x 0.96 (d)

Meet the Author

Eileen Sisk is a former editor at the Tennessean, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Washington Post and a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. and the Society of Professional Journalists. She is the author of Honky-Tonks: Guide to Country Dancin’ and Romancin’.

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