FORGOTTEN AMERICAN MUSIC MASTERS
Joe John Buck Jr. was an American country music singer, songwriter, guitarist and actor who appeared in over 30 Hollywood films which featured skimpy plots, women in even skimpier outfits, monumental alcohol consumption, driving at unsafe speeds, and guns. A sex symbol throughout the 1970s, Buck posed for Playgirl magazine “buck” naked save for a pair of strategically placed fuzzy dice.
Buck was born in Bare-Ass, Arkansas in 1931. He was the thirteenth child born to Joe John Buck Sr. and Rosie Buck (née Magee). The Bucks were impoverished sharecroppers and young Joe John worked the cotton fields along with the rest of his family earning as little as one penny per week.
Buck was considered an “outlaw” country musician which had great commercial appeal. He frequently wrote songs about working on the chain gang, doing hard time, repeat offending and shooting men to observe what might happen to them as a result of said shooting.
One of Buck’s most popular prison songs, "Folked Up Prison Blues" was recorded live at the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, Louisiana. It was such a raucous performance that an all-out prison riot ensued with inmates demanding Buck play his entire set 15 times consecutively, which took nearly an hour.
Buck married into the famous Crawford Sisters Singers, a traveling group of talented siblings who frequently performed in auditoriums and “opryies” throughout the South. Marriage did little to settle Joe John’s thirst for booze, pills, driving fast, and nailing anything that moved in terms of female companionship. Judy, aware of her husband’s debauched ways, did little to dissuade him from such behavior. In fact, it is rumored she actively encouraged it to keep the “bastard out of the house”.
Despite consuming prodigious amounts of alcohol, amphetamines and barbiturates, Buck lived to the ripe old age of 72. He died peacefully in his sleep next to a one-hundred-dollar-a-night hooker in a posh downtown Nashville hotel which was considered a pretty classy way to go, all things considered.
Originally published in RW#24, 2016
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