Don Rich and the Buckaroos (from the album Guitar Pickin’ Man on Omnivore Recordings)
Don Rich (Don Ulrich) was born in Olympia, Washington in 1941. He began playing the fiddle around age three and was in local bands while still in high school. Don’s group opened for Elvis Presley at the Tacoma Bowl in 1957 and he met Buck Owens while performing at a local venue in Tacoma, Washington where Buck was working in radio. The two became fast friends with Don Rich backing Buck on fiddle. Buck Owens returned to Bakersfield, California to continue recording for Capitol Records, finally succeeding in encouraging Don Rich to quit college and join him in 1960 as part of his band for a salary of $75 a week. The pair continued recording, developing their ‘freight train sound’ into a brand that became the Bakersfield sound to the world, and adopting the name The Buckaroos for their band at the suggestion of Merle Haggard. Don Rich became bandleader for The Buckaroos, continuing recording and performing with Buck Owens on tour and as part of Hee-Haw until his death in 1974.
Omnivore Records has collected tracks featuring Don Rich on vocals and guitar, backed by The Buckaroos on the recently released, Guitar Pickin’ Man. The tunes are picked from recordings found on albums of Buck Owens as well as unreleased material. Guitar Pickin’ Man showcases the talents of Don Rich, featuring the Bakersfield sound as Don requests “Take Care of You for Me in Kansas City”, introduces “Sally was a Good Old Girl”, admits to being “Number One Heel”, bids goodbye in “Wham Bam” and greets home in “Hello California”. Don Rich and the Buckaroos spend time letting the music talk for them in album instrumentals such as the melodic “Ensenada” as Don’s guitar weaves its way among “Chaparral”, does some “Chicken Pickin’ and string gymnastics with “Aw Heck”.