Some of country music's biggest names gathered yesterday (April 2) in Bakersfield, Calif., to pay tribute to Buck Owens, the flashy cowboy who shaped the sound of country music with his honky-tonk twa

Some of country music's biggest names gathered yesterday (April 2) in Bakersfield, Calif., to pay tribute to Buck Owens, the flashy cowboy who shaped the sound of country music with his honky-tonk twang.

Dwight Yoakam, Trace Adkins and Garth Brooks were among the more than 2,000 friends, family members and fans who crowded Valley Baptist Church in Bakersfield, where the country legend died of a heart ailment on March 25 at age 76.

The memorial service opened with a photo montage set to some of Owens' greatest hits, and included performances by Yoakam and Adkins, and a surprise appearance by Brad Paisley. "Buck gave birth to a movement," Paisley said. "At the time when he came through, his music was so different. He was a maverick in the true sense of the word."

Owens' three sons, John, Buddy and Michael, remembered their father as a stern but loving figure, whose advice they still carry with them. "My father told me opening the door to success is the easy part, but staying there with pride is the challenge," Buddy Owens said.

Inside the church, flowers were arranged in the shape of Owens' trademark red, white and blue guitars. A huge U.S. flag hoisted on a fire rescue ladder flapped above the church.

About 6,000 friends and fans showed up Saturday at the Crystal Palace, Owens' restaurant and theater, to view his open casket, which was set among flowers on the dance floor.

Owens influenced the sound of country music from outside of Nashville with such hits as "Act Naturally" and more than 20 No. 1 records, most released from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. He also brought the genre to TV on the long-running show "Hee Haw."


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