“I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail” is a song that country music band Buck Owens and the Buckaroos popularized.
Released in December 1964, the song became one of Owens’ marks in the country music industry. Also, he was able to showcase the Bakersfield sound in the genre.
In the liner notes to The Buck Owens Collection: 1959 – 1990, Owens recalled that he and Harlan Howard got together to write songs. At that time, they were just starting out slow.
One day, Owens saw an Esso gas station sign having the company slogan: “Put a tiger in your tank”. Right then and there, Buck got his inspiration for the song.
Owens and Rich Working Together
Buck always performs this song with the leader of the Buckaroos, Don Rich. Don was the most loyal band member of the band. Unluckily, Rich died early at the age of 32 because of a motor accident. Don and Buck were like hand and glove—they were an amazing duo. In an interview, Buck shared that their two voices joined to make more than the sum of their parts. Listening to their music just for a short period of time would make you realize what Owens means. There was some kind of magic about the way Buck Owens’ and Don Rich’s voice harmonized.
After weeks of “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail”’s recording, they released it in December 1964. “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail” was Owens’ and the Buckaroos sixth topnotch on the Billboard magazine Hot Country Singles chart in February 1965. The song is Owens’ and the Buckaroos biggest hit and their sole top-40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100 peaking at No. 25. Though its five weeks’ reign made it far from Owens’ biggest hit on the country charts, several of his other No. 1 songs spent anywhere from 6 to 16 weeks at No. 1.
Dave Berry, in 1965, made his own cover of “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail”. He made it as the B-side of his single “Little Things”. His version of the single occupied the 5th spot in the UK Singles Chart.
buck owens, i've got a tiger by the tail, The Buckaroos