Country singer Bonnie Owens dies at 76

Country singer Bonnie Owens dies at 76

April 24, 2006

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (AP) -- Bonnie Owens, a singer who married and helped build the careers of country music legends Buck Owens and Merle Haggard, has died. She was 76.

Owens died at a Bakersfield, California, hospice hospital Monday after a long battle with Alzheimer's disease.

Her death was announced by family spokesman Jim Shaw, who played keyboards in Buck Owens' band, the Buckaroos.

Bonnie Owens' death came weeks after Buck Owens died on March 25.

They met in 1947 when Buck had a local radio show in Mesa, Arizona. They married a year later, had two sons and separated in the early 1950's, but remained friends.

It was Buck who suggested she record a duet with a young singer named Merle Haggard. "Just the Two of Us" hit the top of the country music charts in 1965. Bonnie and Haggard married the same year. They divorced in 1978 and she later married her third husband, Fred McMillan.

Bonnie Owens remained modest about her contributions, saying Buck and Merle were leaders and she was a follower, doing "what was needed."

Copyright 2006 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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