Buck Owens died in his sleep of an apparent heart attack on March 25, 2006, only hours after performing at his Crystal Palace restaurant, club and museum in Bakersfield. He had successfully recovered from oral cancer in the early 1990s, but had additional health problems, including pneumonia and a minor stroke suffered in 2004.
The Los Angeles Times interviewed longtime Owens spokesman (and Buckaroos keyboard player) Jim Shaw, who said Owens “had come to the club early and had a chicken-fried steak dinner and bragged that it’s his favorite meal.” Afterward, Owens told band members that he wasn’t feeling well and was going to skip that night’s performance. Shaw said a group of fans introduced themselves while Owens was preparing to drive home; when they told him that they had traveled from Oregon to hear him perform, Owens changed his mind and took the stage anyway.
Shaw recalled Owens telling the audience, “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 added, “So, he had his favorite meal, played a show and died in his sleep. We thought, that’s not too bad.”
The front of the mausoleum where Owens is buried is inscribed “The Buck Owens Family” with the words “Buck’s Place” beneath.