Buck Owens Memorial Service
Buck Owens was laid to rest at a private burial today (April 2) following a memorial service at Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, California. More than 2,000 friends, family members and fans attended the memorial service, including Garth Brooks, Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley, and Dwight Yoakam. Sunday's service opened with a photo montage set to some of Owens' greatest hits, and included performances by Yoakam, who sang the hymn, "In The Garden," and Adkins, who sang "Wayfaring Stranger."
The service also featured a surprise appearance by Brad Paisley, who sang "When I Get To Where I'm Going."
"I never thought I'd be singing this for my friend," Paisley said as he started the ballad.
Owens' three sons, John, Buddy and Michael, remembered their father as a stern but loving figure, whose advice they still carry with them.
"My father told me opening the door to success is the easy part, but staying there with pride is the challenge," Buddy Owens said.
Inside the modern church complex in Bakersfield, about 100 miles north of Los Angeles, flowers were arranged in the shape of Owens' trademark red, white and blue guitars.
Outside, a huge American flag hoisted on a fire rescue ladder flapped above the church. While some people arrived in black suits and dresses, others wore cowboy hats, boots, jeans and big belt buckles.
Owens influenced the sound of country music from outside of Nashville with hits like "Act Naturally" and more than 20 No. 1 records, most released from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. He also brought the genre to TV on the long-running show "Hee Haw."
Owens' honky-tonk twang was known as the "Bakersfield Sound," after the truck-stop town on Highway 99 where he moved in 1951 to find work in its thriving juke joints.
"Buck gave birth to a movement," Paisley said. "At the time when he came through, his music was so different. He was a maverick in the true sense of the word."
Owens was a tireless performer, playing regular sets at the Crystal Palace, his Bakersfield restaurant and theater. He was known for taking the stage with his band, the Buckaroos, in flashy rhinestone suits, a red, white and blue guitar in hand.
Owens was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996, but was usually modest in describing his aspirations.
"I don't think most people are aware of what a contribution to the sound of country music Buck had," Adkins said.
Alvis Edgar Owens Jr. was born in 1929 outside Sherman, Texas, the son of a sharecropper. His family moved around during the Great Depression, and Owens was performing in taverns by the time he was 16.
On Saturday, about 6,000 friends and fans showed up at the Crystal Palace to view his open casket, which was set among flowers on the open dance floor.
In leiu of flowers, please make donations to Bakersfield SPCA, 300 Gibson St., Bakersfield, CA 93308.
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