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Monday, March 27, 2006

R.I.P. Buck Owens

Country music icon Buck Owens passed away this weekend at his home in Bakersfield, California. Owens was an innovator and an outsider, expressing his disdain for the formulaic approach in the country music of the Nashville establishment by calling it "assembly line, robot music." He was king of the Bakersfield sound, a twangy, stripped down, rock'n'roll-influenced alternative to the slick, string-laden Nashville sound that was becoming popular in the late 50s, when Owens' career was picking up steam. Owens pushed his sound away from the traditional country shuffle and towards a more upbeat, driving style, which he once described as "like a freight train coming through your livingroom."

The Bakersfield sound is on display in his best known song outside of country music circles, "Act Naturally" (hear it here). It was his first #1 hit (and the first of 15 consecutive #1 hits for him), and was later covered by The Beatles, who changed almost nothing about it.

Grab a couple more Buck Owens classics ("I've Got A Tiger By The Tail" and "Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass") here.

It's a sad day for country music. Hopefully they are flying flags at half-mast on Buck Owens Boulevard.

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