Just hours before he died, Owens was on stage Friday night with the Buckaroos singing at his $5-million Bakersfield nightclub and restaurant, Buck Owens' Crystal Palace, something he'd done routinely since opening it almost 10 years ago.
"He had come to the club early and had a chicken-fried steak dinner and bragged that it's his favorite meal," Shaw said. After dinner, Owens told band members he didn't feel up to performing and decided to drive home. On his way to his car, fans on their way in told him that they had come from Bend, Ore., and that they were really looking forward to hearing him sing. Owens turned around and did the show.
"He mentioned that onstage: 'If somebody's come all that way, I'm gonna do the show and give it my best shot. I might groan and squeak, but I'll see what I can do,' " Shaw said. "He died in his sleep — they figure it was about 4:30 [a.m.] — probably of heart failure. So he had his favorite meal, played a show and died in his sleep. We thought, that's not too bad."