Today, Art&Seek presents This Week in Texas Music History. Every week, we’ll spotlight a different moment and the musician who made it. Taken together, these podcasts show the diverse range of music in Texas, from country legend Buck Owens to the late rapper DJ Screw. For the week of Aug. 10, Texas music scholar Gary Hartman takes a look at Owens, a sharecropper’s son from Sherman who became an international country star and even had a song recorded by the Beatles.
You can also hear This Week in Texas Music History on Saturday on KERA radio. But subscribe to the podcast so you won’t miss an episode. And our thanks to KUT public radio in Austin for helping us bring this segment to you.
And if you’re a music lover, be sure to check out Track by Track, the bi-weekly podcast from Paul Slavens, host of KERA radio’s 90.1 at Night.
This Week in Texas Music History, we’ll look at a sharecropper’s son who became an international country star and even had a song recorded by the Beatles.
Alvis Edgar “Buck” Owens, Jr., was born a sharecropper’s son on August 12, 1929, in Sherman, Texas. Buck was only eight years old when his family fled the Great Dust Bowl and headed west to Arizona, where he began performing on local radio. In 1951, he moved to Bakersfield, California, and began playing country, pop, western swing, and rockabilly. In California, Owens met Merle Haggard and others with whom he would create the new “Bakersfield sound,” characterized by twangy electric guitar licks, tight harmonies, and sparse arrangements. By the 1960s, Buck Owens had become one of the best-selling country artists in history and even had his song “Act Naturally” recorded by the Beatles. Owens also worked for several years as co-host of the popular television show Hee Haw. His blending of traditional country with roots rock was a major influence on numerous younger musicians, including Linda Ronstadt, Gram Parsons, the Eagles, Dwight Yoakam, and the Austin-based group, the Derailers.
Next time on This Week in Texas Music History, we honor a Texan who may have been the first jazz musician ever to record with an electric guitar.