Buck Owens was born Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr. to Alvis Edgar and Macie Owens in Sherman, Texas in 1929. He is said to have given himself the nickname of Buck after his favorite mule (alternately said to be a donkey or a horse in different accounts) when he was young. His father, Alvis Edgar, Sr., was a sharecropping farmer in Grayson County, Texas. In 1937, the family moved west to Arizona. The family legend is that their trailer broke down near Phoenix, Arizona where they had other relatives, so they elected to settle there. Similar to the stories of many other musical artists, Buck’s mother sang and played the piano at their home and in church. Buck learned to play the guitar, mandolin and other instruments when he was a youth. He dropped out of school at age thirteen to help the family survive and did all sorts of jobs to raise money. As a young man, Buck began performing in honky-tonks to earn his living. When he was about twenty, he married his first wife, the former Bonnie Campbell, a singer in a band both she and Buck played in called Mac and the Skillet Lickers. Buck and Bonnie eventually moved to Bakersfield, California where Buck began to play around town and in the surrounding area. Buck and Bonnie would remain married for about five years. He was married three more times.
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(Image credit: FreddyFender.com)
Freddy Fender was born Baldemar Garcia Huerta in San Benito, Cameron County, Texas on June 4, 1937. His parents were Serapio and Margarita Garcia Huerta, who were migrant farm workers. Huerta was the oldest of four children and was raised around music, including lively “conjunto,” a traditional style of music that includes a blend of Tejano and references to German polka, including the use of an accordion. He performed as early as the age of ten on a Harlingen, Texas radio station. He dropped out of high school and lied about his age to join the United States Marine Corps. He served from 1954 to 1956. Huerta married in 1957 as he began to perform as “El Be-Bop Kid” and other stage names, doing covers of popular American hits of artists like Elvis Presley but singing them in Spanish. He and his wife Evangelina had five children. They divorced and remarried at one point, but otherwise were married for about forty-five years.
Buddy Holly was born Charles Hardin Holley to Lawrence Odell and Ella Pauline Drake Holley on September 7, 1939 in Lubbock, Texas. He began to perform in the country music genre in Lubbock at high school dances. He had won a singing contest at age five but got his first guitar when he was fourteen. Buddy and a former junior high school friend named Bob Montgomery formed a duo they called Buddy and Bob and played anywhere they could get a foothold. They also were the opening act when other artists would tour the area and two different times, they opened for Elvis Presley in 1955 and one time the same year for Bill Haley and the Comets (“Rock Around the Clock”). Buddy and some high school friends then formed a group they called Buddy Holly and the Crickets and were known around Lubbock for playing dances and also spots on local radio. The Crickets were Jerry Allison on drums, Joe Mauldin and Nicky Sullivan on guitars. Buddy did the lead singing.
(Image credit: Country Music Hall of Fame)
Lefty Frizzell was born in Corsicana, Texas in 1928 to Naaman Orville and Ades D. Cox Frizzell. His father was an oilfield worker who followed the drilling rigs. Lefty was the oldest of eight children and his family moved around as the oil exploration business required. There are several explanations of how he came by the nickname of Lefty. The one seeming told most often (and perhaps a legend) was that his classmates began calling him this after a schoolyard fight. He was called Sonny when he was growing up, but he was left handed, which is possibly also the source of his nickname.
On Sunday, October 23, 1960, the Texas Prison Rodeo performance in Huntsville was slated to have a personal appearance by actor John Wayne, in Texas to promote the release of his film “The Alamo” in Houston the following week. Scheduled to appear with Wayne was pop singer Frankie Avalon, who had been cast as the character known as “Smitty” in the film. Wayne’s production was only the fourth of fifty-one film or television projects that Avalon appeared in, but he was at a peak of his career in pop music. The previous year, his recording “Venus” was Number 1 for five weeks. Between 1958 and 1962 between two and three dozen of his recordings hit the Billboard chart. The rodeo arena was expected to be filled to capacity at around 30,000.
Woodward Maurice “Tex” Ritter was born on January 12, 1905 to James Everett and Elizabeth Matthews Ritter of Murvaul, Texas, in Panola County about 10 miles south of Carthage. He was the youngest of about nine children. His first name is sometimes spelled “Woodard” but in one account it is related that he was named for Dr. S. A. Woodward, the doctor who delivered him. Tex was the grandson of Benjamin Franklin Ritter, who had been brought to Texas as a baby in the early to mid 1830s from Tennessee.
(Image credit: Playbill)
An eight foot tall bronze statue of Peter Pan was dedicated to Mary Martin on July 4, 1976 and is located on the south side of the Weatherford Public Library at 1014 Charles Street, near Soldier Spring Park in Weatherford, Texas. It was dedicated as part of Weatherford’s American Bicentennial celebration. Martin was depicted in a pose as Peter Pan, her 1954 Broadway character. An earlier stylized statue of Peter Pan was dedicated in her honor in Weatherford’s Cherry Park recreation area, 300 S. Alamo Street, not far from her childhood home.