Word just in from Buck Owens' KUZZ Radio in Bakersfield is that singer/songwriter Bonnie Owenspassed away yesterday (4/24/06) from complications of Alzheimers.
First married to Buck Owens when he was an orange picker and part-time entertainer, she was the mother of his sons Buddy (Alan) and Mike. After her divorce, the former Capitol Records artist then married Merle Haggard, seven years her junior, in a Mexican ceremony. She continued to work with Haggard after their divorce and remained a vital part of his business organization, as well as his touring backup singer. She was even a bridesmaid in Haggard's next marriage ceremony to Leona Williams.
Reports from Bakersfield say that her Alzheimers was advanced to the point that she wasn't aware of Buck Owens' death last month. A spokesman said her body will be cremated and her ashes laid next to Buck Owens in the family mausoleum. Bonnie Owens was 76 years old.
You'll pardon me, I hope, if I engage in a bit of personal rememberance. One of the most amazing evenings of my life was in 1975, when as the PD/morning personality at KUZZ I was fortunate to be chosen to emcee a benefit tribute evening to Bill Woods from Bakersfield. Bonnie was extremely instrumental in bringing Buck, Merle and many other Bakersfield musical luminaries to the stage to sing, jam and pay tribute to the amazing talents that created the Bakersfield sound. As usual, she was more concerned with putting others in the spotlight, not herself. Yet, I can testify that this wonderful human being was much loved by the people that she was trying to give credit to. God bless you, Bonnie. I'll never forget you.