On This Day: Buck Owens Scores First No. 1 Hit With ‘Act Naturally’ in 1963

by Keeli Parkey
(Photo by Paul Natkin/WireImage)

When you think of country music star Buck Owens, chances are a few things come to mind. One would be his work as the host of the variety show “Hee Haw.” The other is his hit song “Act Naturally.”

It was on this day (June 15, 2021) that “Act Naturally” rose to the top of the charts all the way to No. 1. The song was the first chart-topping hit of Owens’ career. It topped the charts on June 15, 1963, according to ThisDayInCountryMusic.com.

Of course, Owens wasn’t the only performer on the popular and catchy track. It also included his band, the Buckaroos.

While the song is catchy, when you listen to the lyrics you find out that “Act Naturally” is actually a track sung by a man who is going through a difficult time. Because of this difficult time, the song’s narrator is the perfect man to play a sad character in a film.

“We’ll make a scene about a man that’s sad and lonely / Begging down upon his bended knee / I’ll play the part but I won’t need rehearsing / All I’ll have to do is act naturally,” Owens sing.

‘Act Naturally’ Stayed at the Top of the Charts for Four Weeks

According to IMDb.com, “Act Naturally” remained at the top spot on the charts for four weeks. Owens had another hit during the fall of that year with his song “Love’s Gonna Live Here.”

There would be 18 other No. 1 for Buck Owens during his career.

“Act Naturally” has been covered by several other artists. These include country legend Loretta Lynn and Dwight Yoakam. Interestingly, the song was also covered by one of the most popular and influential bands in music history – The Beatles. Ringo Starr, the band’s drummer, joined Buck Owens for a new version of the song. Starr and Owens worked together in 1989 on the song and even made a music video for it.

You can watch Buck Owens and the Buckaroos sing “Act Naturally” below.

Buck Owens Helped Grow the Bakersfield Sound of Country Music

Along with other artists such as Merle Haggard and Wynn Stewart, Buck Owens helped develop and promote what came to be known as the Bakersfield sound, according to CountryThangDaily.com.

This sound is described as “the twangy, electrified, rock-influenced interpretation of hardcore honky-tonk.” It began to rise to prominence during the 1960s thanks to artists like Buck Owens.

This Bakersfield sound was different than much of the country music that was being made during the 1960s. Thanks to Owens and others artists, country music fans had a different interpretation of their favorite genre to listen to, dance to, sing along to, and ‘act naturally’ to.

“Act Naturally” was written by Johnny Russell and Voni Morrison.