Country Music Hall of Fame member Buck Owens died of an apparent heart attack just hours after performing Friday night (March 24) at his Crystal Palace restaurant, club and museum in Bakersfield, Calif., according to his longtime spokesman, Jim Shaw.
"He had come to the club early and had a chicken-fried steak dinner and bragged that it's his favorite meal," Shaw told the Los Angeles Times. After the meal, he planned to cancel his Friday appearance after telling band members he wasn't feeling well. Before he reached his car, however, a group of fans introduced themselves and explained they had traveled from Oregon to attend the show. The 76-year-old singer returned to the club and performed the show.
Shaw recalled Owens telling the audience, "'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." Shaw added, "He died in his sleep ... probably of heart failure. So he had his favorite meal, played a show and died in his sleep. We thought, that's not too bad."
Owens was rushed to Bakersfield Memorial Hospital sometime after 4:30 a.m. Saturday (March 25) but could not be revived, Shaw told the Bakersfield Californian. Owens had performed nearly every weekend at the Crystal Palace since opening the $5-million complex in October 1996. He was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1993 and suffered a minor stroke in 2004. He had previously been treated for respiratory problems.
All of Owens' three marriages ended in divorce. He is survived by three sons: Buddy Alan (who charted several hits as a Capitol recording artist in the early '70s), Michael and Johnny.
Plans for a funeral or memorial service had not been announced Sunday.