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Buck 'Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens

Buck Owens } Randy Poe

Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Dec. 6, 2013

Rock & Roll Books

Buck 'Em! The Autobiography of Buck Owens

by Buck Owens, with Randy Poe
Backbeat Books, 334 pp., $29.99

In the late Nineties, recording his life story for an autobiography, Buck Owens logged nearly 100 hours with a cassette recorder. The Sherman native died in his sleep in 2006 at the age of 76 without publishing that book. Randy Poe, known for Skydog: The Duane Allman Story and Stalking the Red Headed Stranger, transcribed the tapes and arranged their haphazard nature into the country star's saga, the graphic detail of which represents what's remarkable about Buck 'Em! Some swathes don't need amplification, and Owens comes off as braggart even if he acknowledges he doesn't mean to. He revisits his childhood in the Texas dust bowl, his early struggle in West Coast honky-tonks, and his many recording dates and the reasons behind them. Owens not only produced an unequaled string of country hits in the Sixties and Seventies, he parlayed that into a multimedia business run out of the unlikely locale of Bakersfield, Calif. He delights at thumbing his nose to Nashville, while admitting it could be a thorn in his side and that his participation on goofy TV hit Hee Haw stalled his music career even though his name recognition increased significantly. The last third looses steam despite career resurrection from Dwight Yoakam and Ringo Starr, but this fascinating read unspools a tale worthy of its musical pioneer.

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