Bonnie Owens, a cocktail waitress-turned-singer that was married at different times to nation music giants Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, passed away Monday in Bakersfield after a lengthy struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. She to be 76.

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Her death came four weeks after that of Buck Owens, yet she may have actually been as well deeply gripped by alzheimer to understand that he was gone, follow to Jim Shaw, a close family friend.

A couple of years ago, Bonnie was carried to Buck’s date of birth party in ~ his Crystal palace nightclub in Bakersfield and also was coaxed onstage because that a duet with him, recalled Shaw, a longtime keyboard player for Buck Owens and His Buckaroos.

“It to be then the Buck realized the what to be happening to her was because that real,” Shaw claimed of her illness. “She gained up there and didn’t understand the words come her own songs. She had the exact same radiant smile, the same sparkling eyes -- she looked similar to the Bonnie wednesday all recognized -- but Buck to be devastated.”


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An award-winning entertainer in her very own right, Bonnie Owens was a midwife at the bear of the Bakersfield Sound, the twangy nation music the boomed out of the oil town’s honky-tonks in the 1950s. A waitress in ~ a well-known bar called the Blackboard, she would certainly sing native time to time and jot initial lyrics on cocktail napkins.

“She to be there in the middle of it,” shaw said. “She was sort of the glue because that both this guys, appropriate from the start when castle were just nobody.”

She and Owens were married in 1948, however their connection crumbled several years later. Her marital relationship to Haggard lasted native 1965 to 1978, yet they continued touring together as recently as 2000.

Despite the divorces, she continued to be friendly through both men.


In a 1999 interview through the Orlando Sentinel, Haggard praised her both as a performer and as a person.

“She’s obtained a actual unusual voice,” that said. “Once you hear she talk, you’d recognize her in the dark 300 year from now.”

Haggard claimed his former wife “sort of dropped the torch the her own career to stoke mine.”

Born to a sharecropping family in Blanchard, Okla., Bonnie Campbell moved with she parents come Arizona once she was 12. Constantly musical, she ended up being known in her teens as one of the state’s finest yodelers.

She met Owens in ~ a roller-rink and sang v him on neighborhood radio shows, showing up with a group called Mac MacAtee and also the Skillet Lickers. Lock married as soon as she was 18 -- probably too young, she told an interviewer year later.

The couple had two sons, Buddy and Michael. By 1951, castle had resolved in Bakersfield, however the amazing music step did naught for your marriage.

“We had one good thing in common,” Bonnie told the Bakersfield Californian in 1997. “That to be Buddy and Mike. Us both wanted to make sure they had changed minds. It to be a friendly parting.”

Bonnie sang in clubs and also on neighborhood TV and also released numerous successful records, consisting of “Why nothing Daddy Live below Anymore?” and also “Don’t Take advantage of Me.” yet she came to be best recognized after teaming with Haggard, who she met in ~ a Bakersfield bar in 1961.

The two videotaped “Just between the two of Us” in 1964, and the song continued to be a fight on the country charts for much more than six months. She was named ideal female vocalist through the Academy of nation Music in 1967.

After her marital relationship to Haggard dissolved, she served as a bridesmaid at his following wedding.

At the moment of her death, she to be separated indigenous her 3rd husband, Fred McMillen. She had actually moved come Missouri with him in the 1980s yet returned come Bakersfield alone around three year ago.

According to Shaw, she belted out nation songs even when she to be living in a nursing home.

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“I love come perform,” she told an interviewer in 2000. “I’m a ham-and-a-half.”

A windy memorial organization is collection for 11 a.m. Thursday in ~ Greenlawn Southwest Mortuary in Bakersfield.