The 50th Anniversary of Buck Owens at Carnegie Hall!
This past Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the day that Buck Owens changed the course of country music, when he and the Buckaroos played Carnegie Hall, as well as the 10th anniversary of his death. The Bakersfield Californian marked both anniversaries in this article, which is filled with quotes from Buck Owen and Randy Poe’s book, “Buck ‘Em!”.
Friday, March 25, marked two important anniversaries in the extraordinary saga of Buck Owens.
Ten years ago the iconic performer, Bakersfield’s best known citizen, died just a few hours after performing at his Crystal Palace dinner club and museum.
And 50 years ago, to the day, Owens changed the course of commercial country music with a concert he once would have never thought possible or desirable: He and his Buckaroos performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall.
The circumstances of Owens’ death in 2006, well chronicled, fit the narrative of his life perfectly. Scheduled to perform with his Buckaroos that Thursday night, he had come to the Palace earlier than usual to dine on his favorite meal, that unpretentious standard of southwestern cuisine, a chicken-fried steak.
He wasn’t feeling well, though, and so he told the band they’d have to go on without him; he was heading home. On the way to his car, however, a group of fans stopped him and introduced themselves. They’d traveled all the way from Oregon to see him.
Owens pivoted and walked back into the club. He just couldn’t bear to disappoint.
Owens gave it his best shot, groaning and wheezing through the show, still managing to deliver for those fans from Oregon and beyond. He died of an apparent heart attack early the next morning, March 25, sometime after 4:30 a.m. Within hours, the country music world, and his adopted hometown of Bakersfield, were in full mourning.
The other, happier anniversary is much more telling of his stature.
On March 25, 1966, at the height of his renown as a country hit-maker, Owens and the Buckaroos rolled into Manhattan to perform what would eventually be recognized as one of the best performances of his life; certainly among his finest performances preserved on record.
“Carnegie Hall Concert,” released four months after that landmark show, rose to No. 1 on the Billboard country charts. But then so did virtually everything Owens laid down on vinyl in those heady days of commercial success.
Owens hadn’t been especially thrilled by the prospect of playing at Carnegie Hall. He agreed to it only after his manager, Jack McFadden, pleaded.
Read the article in its entirety here!