Buck Owens Not There for Award, but His Music Was

Sidelined last weekend by his doctor, Buck Owens was unable to journey to Nashville Thursday (June 28) to accept his career achievement award from Country Radio Broadcasters. However, four young artists showed up to remind everyone of Owens’ monumental importance to country music.

Country Radio Broadcasters is the organization that conducts the annual Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, as well as regional radio meetings. The awards ceremony, held at the Renaissance Hotel, also featured the induction of six new members into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame.

“We’re here to salute the coolest country maverick of all time,” Brad Paisley said, as he introduced fellow performers Tammy Cochran, Billy Yates and Sherrié Austin. Calling Owens “one of the biggest supporters of new country talent,” Paisley kicked off the segment with “Act Naturally,” dedicating the 1963 Owens hit to its writer, Johnny Russell, who is now gravely ill.

Cochran said she was performing some months ago at Owens’ Crystal Palace showroom in Bakersfield, Calif., when he surprised her by asking to sing with her. For the first round of her tribute, Cochran sang “Close Up the Honky Tonks.”
Yates sang the bubbly “My Heart Skips a Beat.” He recalled visiting one of Owens’ radio stations to promote a new single and the great man himself commandeering the loudspeaker to invite everyone at the station to hear Yates perform.

“While Mr. Buck Owens was having hits in America,” said Australian Sherrié Austin, “he was also having hits in Australia, especially at my house.” She sang “Under Your Spell Again.”

On the second round, Cochran did “Cryin’ Time,” Yates “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail” and Austin “Love’s Gonna Live Here.” Before closing with a group sing of “Together Again,” Paisley told the audience that last December he called Owens to ask if he could visit him at the Crystal Palace on New Year’s Eve and maybe sing a couple of songs. “By the time I landed,” Paisley continued, “in true Buck fashion, he had my name on the marquee.”

Larry Daniels, former general program manager for KNIX in Phoenix, a station until recently owned by Owens, accepted the award for his ex-boss. He said Owens had been forced to cancel all his appearances after becoming ill the past weekend.

Blair Garner, host of the syndicated radio program After Midnite, acted as master of ceremonies for the awards program. He welcomed into the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame Mike Lynch, co-founder of the Great Empire broadcasting chain; Terry Burford, KFDI, Wichita, Kan.; Dale Eichor, KWMT, Fort Dodge, Iowa; “Country” Joe Flint, KSOP, Salt Lake City, Utah; Rhubarb Jones, WYAY, Atlanta; and the late Chris Lane, radio and television personality, voice-over announcer and creator of the Christmas in the Country syndicated package.

CRB president Ed Salamon presented Tom McEntee the president’s award for his work as a founder of the Country Radio Seminar.

Edward Morris is a veteran of country music journalism. He lives in Nashville, Tennessee, and is a frequent contributor to CMT.com.