Buck Owens’ Stories of Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash

Country Music legend Buck Owens was once asked, “Looking back on your great career, is there any one thing you regret doing or not doing?”

Owens performed at Houston Rodeo one week after Elvis in 1969.

“Elvis Presley was appearing at the Hilton in Las Vegas,” Owens thought of the first thing that popped in his head. “Bakersfield to Las Vegas in a plane is only 30 minutes. So, I set up [an arrangement] with Colonel Tom [Parker] for my two sons and I and my wife to see Elvis.”

“At the last moment I felt bad and my wife and I didn’t go, but my two sons and their wives went. They had a big box, a special place. And nobody got the word to Elvis that I wasn’t there.”

“In the middle of his show, Elvis made this great introduction to Buck Owens. … My sons told me they put the spotlight over on our box and folks were applauding. I was very upset. I never had another chance to meet him.”

“I was a great Elvis fan. They were very kind. They sent back a couple of security people from the Hilton to take my sons and their wives backstage to Elvis’ dressing room. They said hello, got to meet him and had a couple of pictures made with him. I really do regret that I missed it.”

Hee Haw

“The most memorable person I ever performed with was Don Rich; there’s no doubt about it. However, talking about other artists, I owe so much to Johnny Cash, because in 1960 Johnny Cash took me on a tour with him all the way across Canada, down through Seattle and Portland.”

“Then Luther [Perkins, Cash’s guitarist] dropped me off at my house in Bakersfield after the tour. I got to play before tens of thousands of people. Johnny Cash was so hot, and he gave me that opportunity. I sang three or four songs each show.”

Cash in Hee Haw

“I always felt like I owed Johnny Cash that debt forever. I would never be able to repay him. So, my most memorable person is Johnny Cash. I don’t know anyone that has meant more to country music than Johnny Cash has meant. He’s the absolute champion. Although I’m a fan of many of the others, I’m a great believer in the great Johnny Cash.”

Have you ever turned down a song to record and then it became a hit with another artist? If so, what was the song title?

“Well, you know I did turn down a song. Nat Stuckey sent me a song one time called “Hungries for Your Love.” I changed it to “Waitin’ in Your Welfare Line.” Don Rich and I took that and wrote some verses about it and made a nice big song about it.”


“Immediately thereafter, I got another song from Nat Stuckey. Nat Stuckey passed on some years ago from cancer. He sent me “Pop a Top.” I loved the song. I thought the song would be a hit, but I didn’t want to do a song at that time about drinking and all that.”

“Jim Ed Brown put it out and made a hit out of it. I never regretted that, because it wasn’t that I didn’t believe in the song, it’s just I didn’t want to do a drinking song at that time.”

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