Buck’s stage shows were loose and pleasant, always on time, always leaving a satisfied audience. In 1965, Dorothy Owens remembers Buck spending 302 days on the road. The mode of touring changed as a bus replaced the old Chevy Camper in March 1966, and by late 1967 they were traveling by air. Yet unlike other artists, Buck and company kept the road’s hard times in perspective, avoiding the lure of booze or pills.

"We had a GREAT TIME! We like what we were doin’ and we did it with a great amount of flair. We did it with a propensity towards ‘Ready or not, here we come!’ The road had the lonely times, but I kept myself busy. I never missed an opportunity to go to a radio station or a TV station when I was in town, if I had an extra hour or so. I knew how important that was. We played chess, we played cards. One time in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, we got some boxing gloves, big ‘ol 16 ouncers, so we couldn’t hurt each other and we boxed for a while.

"There were not (because I never would have had ‘em) any drinkers other than socially. Weren’t any druggies in the band. Anybody who’s been on the road any length of time had taken No-Doz or a diet pill to stay awake, but I think that even that was very much at a minimum. I could almost say it practically didn’t exist. I showed up clean, ready to go with the band."

That need for cleanliness was the sole source of mischief in the band. "We drove up to the Holiday Inn, we didn’t have to make reservations, it was always cheap, always clean, always a good place to stay. We used to get one room and we’d park the vehicle outside, everybody would all take showers and we’d steal towels because we knew we wasn’t gonna have enough towels for all five of us to shower."

Though Buckaroo members varied during Buck’s years on the road, Don Rich was constant. The pair, with their twin Fender Telecasters, had a near-telepathic empathy onstage and in the studio. They enjoyed each other and, a quarter-century later, Buck still marvels at it.

"Don and I made a sort of synergy where one and one don’t make two. The two of us together made three. He was half a generation younger than I was. He had a freshness and he loved to pick the guitar, hated the fiddle. I’d say ‘Don, get that fiddle!’ He’d say ‘Aw, no, Chief, not the fiddle.’ I’d say ‘Yeah, Don, get that fiddle.’ He’d say ‘Ohh, Chief.’ I’d say ‘Don, I’ll make ya tell jokes.’ That’s the only thing that could get him to get the fiddle."

Don’s good nature helped Buck keep his head on the road. "Sometimes I’d get upset with things, I’d say ‘Goddamn that so and so,’ and Don’d say, ‘Awww, Chief, hell, he don’t know.’ I’d be mad at the bass player, maybe he was late or I couldn’t find him. And Don’d say, ‘Let me look for him. Don’t be upset.’ That was his way of talkin’ to me."


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