Synopses & Reviews
Buck Owens was the top-selling country act of the 1960s, with 21 number-one hits and 35 consecutive top-ten hits, a total surpassed only by the Beatles. Inventor of the Bakersfield sound, he was hugely popular not only with country fans, but rock fans too. The Beatles covered his songs, Gram Parsons idolized him, the Grateful Dead loved him. At least five marriages, several TV shows, and a publishing and media empire followed. And a number of current country stars, ranging from Dwight Yoakam to Marty Stuart, owe their sound to him.
Yet never before has there been a book about Buck Owens. And the man that emerges from its pages is the polar opposite of the aw-shucks image he cultivated on Hee-Haw. A tight-fisted control freak with an outsized appetite for sex, Owens could be ruthlessly cruel at one moment and as slippery as a snake the next.
Buck Owens chronicles his rise from poverty as son of a sharecropper to one of the nations best-loved entertainers, worth at least $100 million when he died. It is authoritative: it counts among its myriad sources five Buckaroos, the producer of Hee Haw, the former president of Capitol Nashville, numerous country singers, relatives, wives, lovers, and employees. This biography fully reveals, for the first time, not only one of countrys biggest stars, but perhaps its biggest son of a bitch.
"Sisk (Honky-Tonks: Guide to Country Dancin' and Romancin') opens with a warm dedication and a note of thanks to the late country star Buck Owens. In the subsequent 56 chapters, however, she paints a picture of Owens as a megalomaniacal, sex-addicted, song-stealing skinflint, likening him at times to a vampire, a man who once belittled a 10-year-old who played guitar for him. Owens was born in Texas in 1929, but made the migration west during the Depression, settling in Bakersfield, Calif., developing a distinct sound with songs like 'Act Naturally' that consistently put him atop country music charts in the 1960s. A shrewd businessman, he later became widely known for cohosting the long-running TV show Hee Haw. Owens, who died in 2006, cooperated with Sisk for three years in the late 1990s on an authorized biography before nixing the agreement. The stories of Owens as the Caligula of country music have compelling potential, but Sisk's narrative is plodding. Although the book is billed as a biography of Owens, he is kept at a distance, and the reader learns very little about his music or his side of the story. Sisk instead focuses on what those close to Owens told her about his behavior. Sadly, the Bakersfield sound that made Owens famous and influenced many gets short shrift in this tiresome exposeÃŒÂ. (Aug.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Eileen Sisk's fascinating but unsympathetic bio shreds the veil of secrecy surrounding the brilliant though tormented Owens to reveal a master manipulator with a heart of stone." —John Lomax III, author, Nashville: Music City U.S.A.; Red Desert Sky; and For the Sake of the Song
"This biography should be required reading for any serious country music fan. Meticulously researched, the revealing saga of one of the genre's most flamboyant stars." —Patsi Bale Cox, author, The Garth Factor: The Career Behind Country's Big Boom
"Sisk captures the real Buck. I knew him. I experienced the weird weaknesses. I witnessed the anger. [Sisk] is a tremendous writer. She has the guts, she has the 'perfect subject,' and she's overstocked with talent. Her book is dynamite—a masterpiece, a sure-fire winner." —Bill Mack, host of Country Crossroads
"Buck was one of the kings of country music but also a complicated man. This biography tells why." — Michael Streissguth, author, Johnny Cash: The Biography
"Meticulously researched and well-written." —Sing Out
"While Sisk reveals amazing details like the time Owens convinced a sheriff to deputize two of his crew so they could carry guns, and lurid episodes like sharing women with his bandmates, many of these stories are brief and to the point. . . . This is great for hard-core fans. . . . Because Sisk provides a more honest portrait of a country legend, her book is essential for readers interested in cultural musicology." —Library Journal
"Hold on to your hats, country fans. This well-researched examination of the late 'Hee Haw' co-host and honky-tonk hit maker doesnt tiptoe around the minefields. If youre in the mood for an explosive, warts-and-all examination of Owens life, loves and career, this wild, eye-opening ride will really blow off your barn doors." —American Profile
Retracing the life of Buck Owens--from his poverty-stricken youth as the son of a sharecropper to one of the nation's best-loved and wealthiest entertainers--this biography pays tribute to the man and his music by revealing his genius, his warmth, his humor, his vulnerabilities, and his flaws. It is based on personal sources, including original and latter-day Buckaroos, the cohost and the producer of Hee Haw, the former president of Capitol Nashville, and numerous country singers, relatives, ex-wives, ex-lovers, and ex-employees. The result is a 360-degree profile of a shrewd businessman--the polar opposite of the aw-shucks image he cultivated on Hee Haw. Owens was the top-selling country act of the 1960s--with 21 number-one hits and 35 consecutive top-10 hits from 1962 to 1972, a total surpassed only by the Beatles. One of his major contributions to this era was his invention of the Bakersfield sound, mixing electric guitars with a rock 'n' roll beat, which became popular with country and rock fans alike. This biography details the rift Buck had with the Nashville establishment, his reasons for never becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry, the number of times Buck married, the truth about Buck posing in the nude for Playgirl, and his strained but professional relationship with Hee Haw cohost Roy Clark.
Buck Owens was the top-selling country act of the 1960s. The Beatles covered his songs; Gram Parsons idolized him; the Grateful Dead loved him. At least six marriages, several TV shows, and a publishing and media empire followed.
Yet the man that emerges from these pages is the polar opposite of the aw-shucks image he cultivated on Hee-Haw. A tight-fisted control freak with an outsized appetite for sex, Owens could be genial at one moment and ruthlessly cruel the next.
Buck Owens chronicles his rise from poverty as the son of a tenant farmer to one of the nations best-loved entertainers, worth at least $100 million when he died. It is authoritative, counting among its myriad sources seven Buckaroos, numerous country singers, relatives, wives, lovers, and employees. Here is an unprecedented portrait of perhaps country musics biggest son of a bitch.
About the Author
Eileen Sisk is a former editor at the Tennessean, the Las Vegas Review-Journal, and the Washington Post and a member of Investigative Reporters and Editors, Inc. and the Society of Professional Journalists. She is the author of Honky-Tonks: Guide to Country Dancin and Romancin.