On March 25, 2006, Country Music Hall of Fame member Buck Owens died of what seemed to be a heart attack at his ranch just north of Bakersfield, California. He was immediately rushed to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital but could no longer be revived. He was 76 years old.
His death came a few hours after his Friday night performance with the Buckaroos at his Crystal Palace restaurant, nightclub, and museum – something he had regularly done since the music hall opened in 1996.
Owens’ longtime spokesman, Jim Shaw, revealed that the country star had come to the club and eaten his favorite meal of chicken-fried steak dinner. He wanted to cancel his performance after feeling a little unwell, but a group of fans came saying they had traveled from Oregon. So, the singer decided to return to the club and give his ultimate performance.
“If somebody’s come all that way, I’m gonna do the show and give it my best shot. I might groan and squeak, but I’ll see what I can do,” Owens said.
Buck Owens had been in declining health for years after he underwent surgery for throat cancer in 1993. While he successfully recovered from cancer, he later developed additional health problems. In 1997, he was hospitalized with pneumonia, and in 2004, he had a minor stroke.
Buck Owens And His Well Adored Honky Tonk Twang
Remembered as the flashy rhinestone cowboy, Buck Owens songs shaped the sound of country music with hits such as “Who’s Gonna Mow Your Grass?” and “Act Naturally.” In 1969, he brought country music to TV on the long-running variety show Hee Haw.
Ten years before his death, Owens became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Truly, the legacy he left is something that won’t be easily forgotten.