Buck saw it as on-the-job training. “I remember thinkin’ that I could probably make about $5 if I’d go out and pick cotton all day. And I could make $5 dollars bein’ in this honky-tonk – the guy will give me $5 a night, and I’ll be in here where it’s warm in the winter and cool in the summertime. That was my way of lookin’ at it.”

After a time, Buck met Mac MacAtee, a Mesa gas station owner who played country records for an hour each afternoon over a PA system; the music was broadcast simultaneously over local radio. MacAtee organized a live band, Mac’s Skillet Lickers, to perform at the station. Buck played steel guitar and eventually met Bonnie Campbell, an aspiring singer who became part of the Skillet Lickers. At the time they were married, on January 13, 1948, she was four months pregnant with their first son. Alan Edgar Owens, better known as “Buddy,” was born on May 22, 1948. Michael Lynn Owens, their second son, was born on March 8, 1950.

Buck was not yet supporting his family solely by playing music. He also drove trucks for a while. In the clubs, he became friendly with a fellow trucker and aspiring singer named Marty Robinson, who sang Eddy Arnold songs in area honky-tonks as Marty Robbins. When Buck played at Phoenix’s Astor Hotel, Marty, also a steel guitarist, sat in while Buck sang Hank Williams songs. -- More Pictures 1

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