By the spring of 1963, Buck was teetering on the verge of success he’d pursued day and night for nearly a decade. He hired more musicians, including a drummer, a pedal steel player, and a bass player. The Ford gave way to a Chevrolet camper. The group had no name until one of Buck’s early bass players, a talented Bakersfield musician named Merle Haggard, dubbed them "The Buckaroos."

In the spring of 1963 came the record that established him as a lasting presence: "Act Naturally," which remained at #1 for four weeks. Though he’d worked with Nashville agents like Eddie Crandall and Bob Neal, he needed a manager who understood him. That manager came along, by luck, when Buck got a call from Las Vegas-based booking agent Jack McFadden.

Buck met McFadden by chance in 1963. He was booked for a couple of dates in Oregon and Washington, and asked Jack to book enough dates to turn it into a 10-day tour. Jack, a gifted salesman, returned with 16 dates booked for more money than Buck had asked for. Buck was impressed. Within a few months, Jack became his manager – the only manager Buck has ever had. Until Buck quit the road in 1980, McFadden managed no other artists.

"I knew Buck was my type of artist," McFadden remembers, "because he was as hungry as I was. We made our deal on a handshake, with the motto ‘Whatever it takes.’" Buck also savors the association: "It’s been a wonderful relationship and it’s worked. Jack is a very fine, warm human being, and I’m crazy about him."

With "Act Naturally," McFadden remembers that Buck pushed himself even harder. "He drove thousands and thousands of miles in the camper. He never missed a date. He’d play clubs, starting at 9 at night till 1 in the morning, and never leave the stage. That is a manager’s dream, to have a person that will give that much of themselves. Never due to his own fault was he ever late. I went on almost every date with him. He did everything I ever, ever asked him to do and more. We put in the contract a 60-minute show, and hell, he’d do two hours."

In mid ’63, with "Act Naturally" off the charts Buck recorded the follow up. "Love’s Gonna Live Here," another "freight train" number, spent 8 weeks at #1 according to Billboard. The next single, "My Heart Skips A Beat," was #1 for seven weeks in ’64, and also hit the top of the Billboard charts. The single’s B-side, "Together Again," came up just below it at #2. Then one week the positions reversed, a remarkable, nearly unheard of achievement. The distinctive sound of Buck’s records had caught the public’s fancy.


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