Ask “Mr. Music”
Jerry Osborne


DEAR JERRY: As you know, we lost Buck Owens on March 25.

I am glad his passing rightfully received widespread media attention. However, one frequently used statement in his various obituaries raises a question.

As one example, ABC News states: “His career was one of the most phenomenal in country music, with a string of more than 20 No. 1 records, most released from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s.”

I was a member of his fan club during the '60s and I seem to recall Buck setting some sort of record by having more consecutive No. 1 hits than anyone — thus the confusion when ABC uses the word “string.”

Do the obits mean he had 20 consecutive, or 20 total, No. 1 hits in his career?

If the former is true, might that record still stand?
—Buckaroo Bill in Milwaukee

DEAR BUCKAROO: Though neither reference to 20 No. 1 hits is exactly correct, I do agree that “phenomenal” is the proper word to describe Buck's recording career.

And we're not even talking about his long-running (1969 - 1993), Emmy winning TV show, Hee Haw.

In 30 years on the C&W charts (1959 - 1989), Owens racked up 90 hits, an accomplishment that ranks him in the top one-half of one per cent of all country hit makers.

Of Buck's total hits, 21 singles reached No. 1. Reporting that fact must have been the intention in the ABC piece you read.

As for consecutive chart-topping tunes, Buck Owens and His Buckaroos ran off a streak of 14, beginning in October 1963 with “Love's Gonna Live Here,” through September '67 and “Your Tender Loving Care.”

Your recollection about this feat is accurate. Buck clobbered the previous record of nine — held by Webb Pierce — that stood since 1955.

Still, records are made to be broken. After owning this one four years, Owens relinquished the consecutive No. 1 hits streak to one of his fellow Capitol label stars, Sonny James.

In 1971, “The Southern Gentlemen” completed a stretch of 16 straight, a total not surpassed until 1980.

That year, the group Alabama kicked off an amazing run of 21 consecutive No. 1 C&W hits, which is still the all-time record — in any field of music!

Alabama's streak is even greater than the combined total of the Rock Era's celebrated top three: Elvis (10), the Beatles (6), and Elton John (2).

DEAR JERRY: The only time I saw or heard anything about Gladys Knight was when she was a guest on American Idol last year.

I always enjoyed her voice and style, easily distinguished from other Motown divas (Diana Ross, Mary Wells, Tammi Terrell, etc.). I am curious about her career these days.
—Helen Flynn, Paducah, Ky.

DEAR HELEN: Gladys is always busy with one phase or another of the entertainment business. Since you seem to crave some new Knight recordings, hang on for just a few weeks.

Gladys recently gathered an all-star team of studio musicians and came up with a dozen standards that perfectly suit her tourchy tones.

Titled “Before Me” (i.e., tunes popular before her time), this collection includes George Gerswhin's “The Man I Love,” “But Not for Me,” and the ever-popular “Someone to Watch Over Me.”

There are also three Duke Ellington classics: “Do Nothing Till You Hear from Me,” “I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good),” and “Come Sunday,” and two Billie Holiday favorites: “Good Morning Heartache” and “God Bless the Child.”

Expect “Before Me” (Verve 01471-2) in stores by early June.

IZ ZAT SO? Owens is a very common name, yet there are only two people in over 50 years of Pop chart history named Owens -- and both have now passed away.

When “Need You” became a hit in 1958, Donnie Owens became the first Owens since 1950 on the Pop & Rock charts.

Buck Owens made his Hot 100 debut in 1964, and his biggest Pop hit, “I've Got a Tiger By the Tail,” came out in 1965, eventually reaching No. 25.

Coincidentally, “Need You,” by the other Owens, also peaked at No. 25.

For bringing this trivia note to our attention, we thank Dave Leveton, of Brooklyn N.Y.

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