GARY SEVEN SAYS FAREWELL TO THE BOSS HE NEVER MET: BUCK OWENS, RIP
Back in the early 1980s, I was a part-time disc jockey for FM rock radio station KZOZ, San Luis Obispo CA. At the time, it was known as "Z93, " and on its air, I was known as "Gary Seven
." This was a minimum-wage job, as most part-time radio gigs in small and medium markets were in those days, but it was regular work, and I appreciated being a part of the music industry, as well as being able to exploit my association with the station whenever I wanted to get into clubs, attend industry events, go backstage at concerts, etc. Z93 had the reputation of being the edgier of the two dominant commercial pop-rockers in the area (the other being KSLY, where I also went to work, eventually, before leaving radio, apparently forever).
The Z93 studios were in a building just off of Highway 101 in Arroyo Grande, near a cemetary and within sight of Ocean View Elementary School
, a public institution I had once attended, which perched atop a nearby hill, looking like nothing so much as a minimum security prison. KZOZ shared its facilities with a sister station, a country-music outlet on the AM dial. Both stations were owned by a corporation that had been established and was still controlled by "American music" legend Buck Owens
, the chart-topping co-star of Hee-Haw
on TV, and head of the so-called "Bakersfield mafia"
(as his gang of rebels were once known in the country music industry). I always thought it was a bit strange, to be working as a rock DJ, pushing counterculture sensibilities out over the airwaves, on behalf of one of country music's "goodest" good-ole boys.
Truth be told, I liked Owens' music and I even liked Hee-Haw
, corny as it was. I would have said that to his face, had I ever met the man. But, the Big Bakersfield Boss was always a shadowy figure at KZOZ, and he and I were never in the same place at the same time. Perhaps there were Christmas parties, which Buck attended, and to which full-timers at his broadcast outlets were invited, but not part-timers like me. I stayed as long as I could at KZOZ -- it was a good gig as part-time radio went -- but ultimately left when the IRS and Franchise Tax board started attaching my minimum wages to pay a bogus tax obligation. (Don't get me started!) Maybe, had I hung in just a bit longer, I might have encountered the myth, the man, the legend, Buck Owens, in the halls of Z93. But it was never to be.
I read that Buck Owens died today, at the age of 76. Thanks Buck, for establishing radio stations where young people like me could have fun and earn money in the music industry. So long from Gary Seven, the over-the-top weekend DJ at Z93, who never met you, but was very grateful to use your transmitter and cash your checks.