Buck Owens: The Biography
Reviewed by Jim Caligiuri, Fri., Dec. 10, 2010
Buck Owens: The Biographyby Eileen Sisk
Chicago Review Press, 385 pp., $24.95
Anyone familiar with Buck Owens solely as the king of Bakersfield's brand of country music and/or the goofball co-host of TV's long-running Hee Haw will be shocked by Eileen Sisk's story of his life. The author speaks to those that knew him – family, friends, associates, members of his band, the Buckaroos – and initially had even the cooperation of Owens, who died in 2006 at the age of 76. Unfortunately, the unrelenting tawdriness of the narrative, combined with a less than colorful writing style, makes the endeavor come across as a hatchet job, whether intended or not. Instead of concentrating on Owens' music, bringing out the reasons for his success and, ultimately, his influence on the Beatles, Gram Parsons, and Dwight Yoakam, Sisk makes sure the reader's aware of how proud he was of the size of his penis, his never-ending illicit affairs, several marriages and illegitimate children, and a scurrilous way of doing business that made him wealthy beyond his dreams. The retelling only comes alive with the unexpected death of Don Rich, Owens' close friend and guitarist of the Buckaroos, and even that's given an air of conspiracy. Sisk quotes Hee Haw co-star Roy Clark saying, "Buck is just a strange guy." While probably true, there's surely a more entertaining way to tell the tale.