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Paying Tribute to Buck Owens

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Walk into the editorial office at Premier Guitar and you''ll notice Buck Owens'' picture up on the wall. Not one or two, but three framed pictures of him, actually. Senior Editor James Egolf''s desk side tribute to the legendary guitar player shows the kind of respect the inventor of the Bakersfield sound is due. We''re glad to see Mr. Owens is being honored in a number of other ways as of late.

Dwight Yoakum, one of the rare country performers who continues to release music that still sounds country, is releasing a musical tribute to Buck on October 23rd. The CD is titled, Dwight Sings Buck. A portion of the CD''s sales will benefit the Buck Owens American Music Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to preserving the Bakersfield sound and Owens'' legacy. Dwight covers 15 tunes on the disc, including, "Act Naturally," Close up the Honky Tonks," and "My Heart Skips a Beat." This isn''t the first time Yoakum played a role in bringing Owens and his music back into the spotlight. In 1988 the pair recorded the duet, "Streets of Bakersfield," which put Owens at the top of the charts for the first time in 16 years. Yoakum says his tribute CD is the clearest way he could express his love for him and acknowledge the depth of their friendship.

On July 31st, the Derailers are releasing their musical tribute to Owens. The Austin-based honky tonk band was formed in the ''90s when the musicians realized they were all fans of Buck. Known for pulling off Buck''s sound with enthusiasm and respect, Owens even had them perform at his 70th birthday party in 1999. Their tribute features 13 covers, including, "Together Again," "I''ve Got a Tiger by the Tail," and "Love''s Gonna Live here."

And check this out... Owens is getting a post office named after him. U.S. Senators Barbara Boxer (D- CA) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) recently introduced legislation that would designate a postal facility at 118 Minner Avenue in Bakersfield as the “Buck Owens Post Office.”

Many people associate Buck Owens with the red, white and blue acoustic he played for many of the 20 years he co-hosted Hee-Haw, but true pickers know him for bringing the Tele to the forefront of popular music. He started playing an off-white, slab-body Tele in the ''50s, a revolutionary guitar at the time, and the world took notice of his hard-twanging sound.

Owens had 20 number one hits but the most important part of his musical legacy is his creation of the Bakersfield sound which, of course, played an integral role in the evolution of popular music. It was a hook-heavy kind of pure hard country with hillbilly roots, bouncy steel and a tight, edgy California twang. For many of us, it was what Teles did best. Owens died in his sleep March 25, 2006. He was 76.

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