Buck Owens, 76, one of country music's leading stars and a host of the long-running television variety show "Hee Haw," died March 25 at his home in Bakersfield, Calif.
He died in his sleep, and the cause was not immediately known. He was treated for cancer in 1993 and pneumonia in 1997, but in recent years he had been in good health and performed regularly at his Bakersfield nightclub.
By blending rock-and-roll rhythms with country harmonies, Mr. Owens created the distinctive "Bakersfield sound," which propelled him to enormous success. Between 1959 and 1974, he had 45 songs in the country Top 10 and 20 No. 1 hits, including "Act Naturally" (1963), "Love's Gonna Live Here" (1963), "Together Again" (1964), "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail" (1964) and "Waitin' in Your Welfare Line" (1966).
He was unquestionably the leading country music star of the 1960s, annually selling more than 1 million records. He performed more than 300 nights a year and appeared at Carnegie Hall and the White House. In the mid-1960s, he had 15 consecutive No. 1 country hits. As a patriotic gesture in the late 1960s, he began to perform with a red-white-and-blue guitar, which became a signature