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Dec. 23: Alvis Edgar Owens Jr. gave the world a great Christmas present 50 years ago today, when he recorded these honky-tonk classics in the same session. They’re both so great that I couldn’t choose just one. So, as Ernie Banks once said, let’s play two.
It was Buck’s fourth trip to the Capitol Tower studios in Hollywood as a solo artist, and a killer lineup of musicians — Ralph Mooney (steel guitar), Rollie Weber (guitar), Al Williams (bass), Pee Wee Adams (drums) and George French Jr. (piano) — helped him shine. And let’s not forget the fiddle player: Don Rich, in his first session with his friend Owens. Before long he would learn to play lead guitar, adding his hot Telecaster to the Buck Owens mix. He became chief Buckaroo and his boss’ right-hand man and best friend.
“Excuse Me” was a Buck composition; Harlan Howard is responsible for “Above And Beyond.” Both appeared on each album depicted here: Buck Owens (1960) and The Best of Buck Owens (1964). My father had a monaural copy of the latter, and I have fond memories of him playing it regularly. Its tracks represent the beginnings of the Bakersfield sound that helped put Buck Owens in the Country Music Hall of Fame.