Memories of Buck Owens, Bonnie Owens, and Merle Haggard • Panel Discussion, 2012
Interviews • 1h 21m
Buck Owens, Bonnie Owens, and Merle Haggard continue to be revered for their role in the country music history of Bakersfield, California. This panel discussion—held November 12, 2012, in conjunction with the 2012 – 2014 exhibition “The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country”— explores the personal life and parenting approach of these iconic figures.
Guests include Alan Edgar “Buddy” Owens and Michael Owens (sons of Buck and Bonnie Owens), John Owens (son of Buck Owens and his second wife, Phyllis), and Mel Owens Jr. (Buck Owens’s nephew). They discuss their ancestors’ paths to Bakersfield and how Buck Owens (1929 – 2006) and Bonnie Owens (1929 – 2006) became musical collaborators and romantic partners.
Buddy and Michael Owens say they rarely saw their father as they grew up, due to his constant touring and recording schedule. However, when Buck bought a ranch after significant career success, he became more involved in the lives of his sons and his nephew (who lived at the ranch for a time in his early teenage years). They fondly remember playing football and riding horses with Buck.
The conversation turns to Bonnie Owens, who “always had the best attitude going through life,” Michael says. She married Merle Haggard after divorcing Buck Owens. Buddy recalls that Haggard introduced him to the music of Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Willie Nelson. Michael reminisces about how Haggard would keep him out of school to go fishing together.
Later in the program, Buddy, who performs under the name Buddy Alan, explains how he settled on his stage name and describes the performance that made him want to become an entertainer. Buddy adds that he’s still performing fifteen to sixteen weekends a year with the Buckaroos at the Crystal Palace in Bakersfield.
Michael speaks about his father’s diverse business interests, particularly in the radio industry. The panelists also weigh in on the influence of Buck’s sister, Dorothy Owens, on the family’s extensive business portfolio as well as their own career development. Michael takes a moment to reflect on his father’s friendship with Dwight Yoakam, while John Owens talks about the formation of his band, Buck Shot.
The event concludes with a four-song set by Buddy Alan, including “Stop the World” (recorded by Bonnie Owens), “Think of Me” (recorded by Buck Owens), “Love’s Gonna Live Here” (written and recorded by Buck Owens), and “Streets of Bakersfield” (recorded by Buck Owens, and later as a duet with Owens and Dwight Yoakam).
Explore the Museum’s public programming: https://countrymusichalloffame.org/plan-your-visit/exhibits-activities/public-programs/
Learn about current exhibitions: https://countrymusichalloffame.org/current-exhibits/
FOLLOW THE MUSEUM
Up Next in Interviews
Elizabeth Cook, Mary Gauthier, and Ab...
Elizabeth Cook, Mary Gauthier, and Abigail Washburn explore their musical roots and their approach to songwriting in this September 8, 2010, program at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, hosted by author Jewly Hight. The panelists—all of whom are featured in Hight’s 2011 book, “Right By H...
Ronnie Milsap • Interview, 2015
Ronnie Milsap remembers his experiences growing up in North Carolina and his winding path to Nashville during this interview, recorded February 7, 2015, to coincide with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibition “Ronnie Milsap: A Legend in My Time.”
Raised in a loving environment by ...
Amythyst Kiah • Live at the Hall, 2021
Amythyst Kiah discusses her career trajectory as she evolved from traditional acoustic music performer to contemporary Americana artist, and performs three songs—“Wild Turkey,” “Black Myself,” and “Hangover Blues”—from her acclaimed 2021 album, "Wary + Strange." Part of the Museum's "Live at the ...