Buck Owens former bassist Doyle Holly had a death premonition early last year when old singing mate Billy Walker and wife Bettie died in a car crash at 77 on May 21.

Holly wrote in Walker's web page guest book on May 26 - "See Ya at the big Post Office In Heaven, Billy." - Doyle Holly (Hendersonville, TN.")

Now, just seven months later, Holly has checked into that famous dead letter office after dying of prostate cancer.

Holly wrote his message just two months after Owens died at 76 in Bakersfield.

"Looks like it's got him this time," said his wife of 37 years, Ginny Holly.

She said Holly was hospitalised on December 17 and was admitted to the hospice on January 9.

Holly died with Ginny and their children, Jess and Heather, by his side.

Holly will be cremated and there will be no funeral.

He wanted family members not to mourn but to go out to dinner and make a toast to him, Ginny Holly said.

And that's what she and the children planned to do Saturday night, she said.

The bassist was a member of Owens Buckaroos during their golden era from 1963-71 but left for Nashville to front his own band The Vanishing Breed and later the Doyle Holly Band.

Owens and surviving Buckaroos Tom Brumley and Willie Cantu guested on Holly's most recent solo album Together Again in 2002.

As a solo artist he signed to Barnaby Records in 1974 - he charted seven singles.

Lila peaked at #17 in 1973.

Others included Shel Silverstein classic Queen of the Silver Dollar, featuring Waylon Jennings as a guest vocalist, and jukebox hit Richard & the Cadillac Kings for which he received an ASCAP award.

Holly's other chart successes included Lies and Too Much Of Me.

Doyle also recorded singles for Capitol during his Buckaroos era - they included I'll Be Alright Tomorrow, Streets Of Laredo, Cinderella, Woman Truck Drivin' Fool and Gatherin' Dust.


Holly was born in Oklahoma and spent his young adult years working in the oil fields of Oklahoma, Kansas and California.

When in California he was lured west to Bakersfield - home of Merle Haggard and Owens.

Upon landing in Bakersfield, he discovered that the city had a music scene as rich as its oil wells and soon found himself performing with a wide assortment of country and rock 'n' roll musician, including Joe and Rose Lee Maphis, Jimmy Wakely and Johnny Burnette and also touring the rodeo circuit with the pre- Hawaii Five-O Jack Lord.

"I played bass for Jimmy Wakeley, worked at the Blackboard club for Bill Woods, and when I went to work for Buck, I was working for Joe and Rosalee Maphis," Holly revealed in a recent interview.

"My musical influences were Bob Wills, Tommy Duncan, Ernest Tubb along with the Texas Playboys, the best band ever"


Late Buckaroos guitarist Don Rich recruited Holly to the Buckaroos who once hired Haggard as their bassist, in 1963.

"I was playing in a band at the Lucky Spot, got to be friends with Don, and Don hired me when Kenny Pierce quit. I really don't know who hired Tom Brumley. It could have been Buck and Don. Me and Don hired Willie Cantu."

Buckaroos recruitment was a polished art.

"When Buck or any member of the band met or knew a musician we would get his phone number just in case we ever needed him," Holly recalled.

"For example, Don Rich recommended me, I recommended Wayne Wilson, Don and I found Willie Cantu. When Willie left Don recommended Jerry Wiggins. I played around Bakersfield and knew Don and Kenny Presley (the first drummer). Kenny Pierce (the bass player before me got in a beef with other members of the group over a gambling debt and quit half way through a trip to L.A. for a photo session for On The Band Stand. Don Rich called me. There was no audition, and there were hardly ever any rehearsals. That was the most unique band I ever worked with. We all could just about read each other's mind."

During Holly's tenure in the Buckaroos - 1963 to 1971 - the band scored over 30 singles in the Top 40, more than half of which went to number 1, usually staying there for several weeks.

In the band's peak year - 1966 - Owens singles occupied the number 1 position for 17 weeks or about one-third of the year.


During the group's mid-'60s peak the Beatles covered Buck's Johnny Russell penned Owens' 1963 hit Act Naturally.

The Buckaroos returned the compliment with a spirited cover of Twist and Shout on 1966's Carnegie Hall Concert while wearing Beatles wigs.

The Beatles then asked for all new Buck Owens records to be forwarded to them in England.

"We went to a brunch with Ringo and John in Liverpool. I didn't stay very long because I wanted to ride a steam locomotive. Don was a big Beatles fan. I was a fan, too, but not as big as Don. If I had to do it over, I would have stayed there and eaten with them. The Carnegie Hall album was the most memorable, and in my not so humble opinion, the best album ever recorded," Holly said.

"The album is still selling very well. The shows were oversold. The people came to Carnegie Hall in their tuxedos and evening gowns, and they had to sit in the aisles."

Owens Buckaroos was only the second country band to record a live album there - Flatt & Scruggs recorded there in 1962.

"We were nervous about being recorded," Holly revealed.

"When you're doing a tape, you don't want to make any mistakes. We were probably more concerned with making the record than with entertaining the audience. I asked Buck if he wanted to do comedy and he said, 'No, just play everything straight.' Then it got back into the groove of a regular show, and we started doing the comedy and the impressions."

Holly believed their records had a lasting influence on later performers including The Eagles, the Desert Rose Band and The Derailers.

"We weren't really country, although we thought we were," Holly said.

"I would say that we were a bunch of bluegrass musicians with electric guitars. Don was so versatile. He dug the Beatles. He dug The Band, In fact we recorded three or four songs by The Band."

"If we heard a good song, we'd record it."

Holly's time as a Buckaroo wasn't continuous: He left the band for a 9-month period between late 1966 and the summer of '67.


During those months, Holly went to Washington and was replaced by Wayne Wilson, who appears on the 1967 live album Buck Owens and His Buckaroos in Japan and a few studio recordings.

"I recommended Wayne for the job when I left," Holly recalled.

"Me and Buck had a love/hate relationship. He'd fire me a couple of times a month, and I'd quit a couple of times a month. And this was one of those times where neither one of us made up until nine months later. I always regretted leaving Buck. That was the Buckaroos' heyday."

But the lure of Bakersfield returned Holly to the fame flame.

"Buck made a film during the time that I missed out on," Holly revealed.

"There was a film crew that travelled on the bus with them. I've never seen it to tell you the truth. I don't think he's very proud of it."

The Buckaroos performed throughout the US and Canada and Europe.

They played Carnegie Hall in New York City, Las Vegas & Reno, the White House during President Johnson's administration, and the Palladium in London.

They made many TV appearances as regulars on the Hee Haw TV show.

The Buckaroos reformed on August 15, 1999, to perform at Owens 70th birthday bash at his famed Crystal Palace in Bakersfield.


Doyle Holly & Don Rich
After returning to the band, Holly remained another four years, leaving for the last time in November 1970.

Just four years later Don Rich died in a motorcycle accident in 1974.

Holly started doing studio session work and formed his band, the Vanishing Breed.

"I just wanted to try it on my own. I felt I went just as far as I could go as a Buckaroo although Buck was featuring me on a couple of songs on every album. He was always good like that. I can't think of anybody that had Buck's stature that would do that."

Although Holly had a small degree of solo success in the early '70s, scoring 2 top 40 country hits under his own name and releasing two solo albums on the Barnaby label - home of Andy Williams.

Just Another Cowboy Song, (1974,) and Doyle Holly (1981) reached top twenty.

During the 70's and early 80's the Doyle Holly Show played throughout the United States and Canada.

They were also an opening act for such artists as Conway Twitty, The Whites, John Schneider, Stella Parton, Gene Watson and Randy Travis.


But he grew tired of life on the road and in 1982 opened a musical instrument shop in Hendersonville, where he concentrated his energies for the next couple of decades.

"I just quit all of a sudden; stopped touring and stopped recording," Holly added.

"And Johnny Russell wanted to do this CD, so I said, 'Well, why not?' I didn't have anything else to do."

Though Russell enjoyed a string of solo hits during the '70s, during his life he was known primarily as a songwriter.

His career song Act Naturally was a hit for Owens in 1963, The Beatles in 1965, and for Owens and ex-Beatles drummer Ringo Starr when they teamed up to re-record the song as a duet in 1989.

Russell proposed to record an album of bluegrass-influenced versions of Buck Owens hits with Holly on vocals.

Unfortunately, Russell's health declined sharply when recording was about two-thirds completed, and the album was shelved until OMS label head Hugh Moore stepped in to revive the project following Russell's death in 2001.


This was a catalyst for Hollys' 2003 solo album, Together Again featuring Owens, Cantu and Brumley and special guests.

"Hugh Moore who also contributes banjo to the album is a bluegrass producer," Holly explained.

"His forte is bluegrass, and I love bluegrass.

It was supposed to have been a little more bluegrass than it was. I tried to get more of Del McCoury's band on there."

Released in early May by OMS Records, Together Again is a bluegrass-Bakersfield hybrid.

Pedal steel guitarist Brumley and drummer Cantu are part of the core band, as well as Owens himself on two duets with Holly; Foolin' Around and Love's Gonna Live Here.

Also appearing as duet partners are Bobby Osborne and Jeannie Seely.

Holly didn't play bass on the new album.

"It's because I haven't done it for a while, although I do still have one. And we had Mike Bub, Del McCoury's bass player. I was busy doing vocals, so I never did give it much thought."

The only member of the classic Buckaroos line-up absent from Together Again was guitarist Don Rich, who died during the summer of 1974 in a motorcycle accident at the age of 32.

Rich's death was devastating to Owens; both personally and in terms of his career.

"Don was just a great big old teddy bear who'd set the world for you," Holly said on the eve of his album release.

"I remember an incident where somebody called up Don about two or three o'clock in the morning and said, 'My battery's dead. You've got to give me a jump.' And this person figured Don knew who he was talking to. So he said, 'Yeah, I'll be there in a minute. Tell me where you're at.' He gave him the directions where he was at, and Don got up to get ready and said, 'By the way, who is this?'"


RCA Records approached the Buckaroos about a reunion album in the early '90s.

Though the project never got past the planning stages, the idea had been to reunite the group's famed '64-'67 lineup, as well as bringing in other ex-members.

"They wanted me to get all the original Buckaroos, plus a few other musicians who'd worked with Buck," Holly recalled.

"As a matter of fact, one of the ideas was to make Together Again an instrumental with Tom Brumley, Ralph Mooney and Jay Dee Manness, the last two of whom had also played on Owens' '60s recordings.

"Probably it didn't happen fast enough for RCA," says Holly when asked why the project never saw the light of day.

"Somebody was probably dragging their feet. I was probably one of the guiltiest. I know there was a problem with using the Buckaroos name. Buck had a patent on the Buckaroos name, and he had a project going where he couldn't release permission to use the name."

Holly had a fulfilling life.

He sold off the music store regarded himself as "semi-retired," playing a handful of live dates per year.

Holly even opened two shows in Canada for Steve Earle in 2003 but fought ill health and cut his annual gigs to about five by 2005.

Now, with the grim reaper's arrival, he is together again with fellow Buckaroos Rich and Owens, Texans Billy and Betty Walker, Waylon and others in honky tonk heaven.


Just Another Cowboy Song - 1974
Tracks -
I Overlooked an Orchid
Mama Lou
Darling Are You Ever Coming Home
Just Another Cowboy Song
Lord How Long Has This Been Coming on
January Bittersweet Jones
What Price Gloria
Watch Out Woman
Dumb Things
Villain Mean Woman Scorned

Headed for Country - 1981
Tracks -
Queen of the Silver Dollar
Don't Rob Another Man's Castle
Take a Walk in the Country
Your Country Lovin'
Take Some and Give Some (And Leave Some Behind)
Headed for the Country
All the Way from Alabama
My Heart Cries for You

Together Again - 2003
Label: OMS
Act Naturally - Johnny Russell, Voni Morrison Bobby Osborne, Doyle Holly (2:23)
Foolin' Around - Buck Owens, Harlan Howard Buck Owens, Doyle Holly (2:45)
Excuse Me (I Think I've Got a Heartache) - Doyle Holly (2:23)
Under Your Spell Again - Doyle Holly (2:50)
Mental Cruelty - Jeannie Seely, Doyle Holly (2:30)
I Don't Care (Just as Long as You Love Me) - Doyle Holly (2:09)
I've Got a Tiger by the Tail - Doyle Holly (2:17)
Together Again - Doyle Holly (2:14)
Cryin' Time - Doyle Holly (2:27)
Before You Go - Buck Owens, Don Rich Doyle Holly (2:20)
Waitin' in Your Welfare Line - Doyle Holly (2:12)
Above and Beyond - Doyle Holly (2:30)
Love's Gonna Live Here - Buck Owens Buck Owens, Doyle Holly (2:04)
My Heart Skips a Beat - Doyle Holly (2:16)
Sam's Place - Doyle Holly (2:05)

Buck Owens (Vocals), Buck Owens (Harmony Vocals), Johnny Russell (Producer), Barry Bales (Guitar (Electric)), Jim Ed Brown (Guitar (Acoustic)), Jim Ed Brown (Guitar), Jim Ed Brown (Guitar (Electric)), Jim Ed Brown (Guitar (Rhythm)), Tom
Brumley (Pedal Steel), Tom Brumley (Guitar (Steel)), Mike Bub (Bass), Mike Bub (Bass (Acoustic)), David Glasser (Mastering), Bobby Osborne (Mandolin), Bobby Osborne (Baritone (Vocal)), Bobby Osborne (Tenor (Vocal)), Bobby Osborne (Harmony Vocals), Jeannie Seely (Vocals), Jeannie Seely (Harmony Vocals), Charlie Vaughan (Guitar (Acoustic)), Charlie Vaughan (Fiddle), Hugh Moore (Banjo), Hugh Moore (Producer), Hugh Moore (Harmony Vocals), Willie Cantu (Drums), Doyle Holly (Vocals), Billy Troy (Guitar (Acoustic)), Billy Troy (Baritone (Vocal)), Billy Troy (Tenor (Vocal)), Billy Troy (Harmony Vocals), Paul Brewster (Tenor (Vocal)), Paul Brewster (Harmony Vocals), Buddy Hyatt (Engineer), Chris O'Donnell (Engineer), Neil Stretcher (Piano)

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