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Doyle Holly, 70; bass guitarist for Buck Owens' band the Buckaroos

January 16, 2007|Randy Lewis | Times Staff Writer

Doyle Holly, the bass guitarist for Buck Owens' band the Buckaroos during its hit-making heyday in the 1960s, has died in Nashville. He was 70.

Holly, who died Saturday after a battle with prostate cancer, had been hospitalized Dec. 17.

He took over the bassist's spot in the Buckaroos after Owens had said farewell to another band member who was starting a career of his own: Merle Haggard.

Holly spent 1963 to 1971 in one of the anchor positions in the Buckaroos' rhythm section, a period in which Owens recorded most of his biggest hits, including "Act Naturally," "Together Again" and "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail." Another hit, "Love's Gonna Live Here," topped the country singles chart for 16 weeks at the end of 1963. Owens even went to No. 1 with "Buckaroo," a 1965 instrumental that featured the band widely considered one of the best and most influential ensembles in country music history.

"Everybody was in the right place at the right time," Holly said in 2003. "I think what it boils down to was that combination" of Owens, lead guitarist and harmony partner Don Rich, steel guitarist Tom Brumley, Holly and drummer Willie Cantu. Holly and Cantu provided much of the rock-influenced drive that made Owens' records punchier and livelier than their Nashville counterparts.

Holly considered his proudest achievement during his years with Owens to have been the recording of the group's 1966 "The Carnegie Hall Concert" live album, only the second country album (after a 1962 bluegrass recording by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs) to have been recorded at the venerated New York hall.

He made his way from Perkins, Okla., where he was born Doyle Floyd Hendricks on June 30, 1936, to Bakersfield, working by day in the oil fields and by night in that booming city's music clubs.

He played with Joe and Rose Lee Maphis before getting a call from Rich to sit in with the Buckaroos, a guest spot that quickly turned into a full-time gig. He stayed with the group as it developed a national presence backing Owens on his "Hee Haw" TV series, which premiered in 1969. Holly left in 1971 to pursue a nominally successful solo career that yielded two Top 20 country hits in 1973: "Lila" and the Shel Silverstein song "Queen of the Silver Dollar."

In the '80s Holly tired of touring and opened a musical instrument shop in Hendersonville, Tenn., outside of Nashville, which he operated for about two decades. He was reunited with the three other surviving members of the Buckaroos, including Owens, on a bluegrass-centered solo album titled "Together Again." Rich was killed in 1974 in a motorcycle accident, and Owens died last year at age 76.

Holly is survived by his wife of 37 years, Ginny. No services were planned.

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