“Hee Haw” Alum & Legendary Musician Buck Trent Dies
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Iconic Musician, Inventor Of The Electric Banjo, And Former Hee Haw Cast Member Buck Trent Dies At The Age Of 85
Buck Trent had one of the most decorated resumes of anyone in country music. He played on some of the greatest songs in the genre’s history, invented the electric banjo, and was a beloved part of the Hee Haw cast for eight years.
Trent was born on February 17, 1938 in Spartanburg, South Carolina. According to Billboard, Trent moved to Nashville in 1958, and got a gig playing in Bill Carlisle’s band. He then played in Bill Monroe‘s band for a short stint, before joining Porter Wagoner‘s Wagonmasters in 1962. As a member of Wagoner’s band, he often performed on The Porter Wagoner Show. Trent would accompany Wagoner and Dolly Parton on many of their duets.
Beyond being a talented musician, Trent also created the electric banjo. That was just one instrument he played, as he also showcased his talents on dobro, steel guitar, mandolin, electric bass, and guitar.
How Buck Trent Rose To Fame
Trent became a household name among country fans when he joined the cast of Hee Haw. He performed on the show for eight years, from 1974-1982.
During his time on Hee Haw, Trent was known for shouting “Oh yeah!” and this became his signature phrase for the rest of his life. Trent reunited with his fellow Hee Haw alums Jana Jae, Lulu Roman, and Misty Row for a reunion tour in 2018.
One year after starting Hee Haw (1975), Trent joined Roy Clark to create a collaborative record called A Pair of Fives (Banjos, That Is). That record reached the ninth spot on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
Trent and Clark won two CMA Awards for instrumental group of the year, in 1975 and 1976. They later released another project together, Banjo Bandits, which earned a Grammy nomination.
Buck Trent Contributed To Some Of Dolly Parton’s Greatest Songs
Trent’s connection to Parton lasted beyond their days on The Porter Wagoner Show. He played acoustic guitar on two of her most iconic songs, “I Will Always Love You” and “Jolene.”
He also contributed to Parton’s popular albums Coat of Many Colors (1971) and My Tennessee Mountain Home (1973).
In the 1980s, Trent made his way to Branson, Missouri. He became a longtime and beloved headliner there. He remained active as a performer up until the very end.
Earlier this year, Trent was named as one of the honorees for the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame. The celebration is scheduled for October 12-October 14 in Oklahoma City.
Sadly, Trent passed away just days before. He was 85 years old.
Buck Trent’s Wife Confirms News Of His Death
Trent’s wife Jean shared a heartbreaking statement on Trent’s Facebook page in the early morning hours on October 9. She said:
“It is with great sorrow and a broken heart to say my husband, my love, Buck Trent, went to be with Jesus this morning. I lost my best friend, and the world lost a Master Musician and Country Music Legend. Oh Yeah!“
Jim Halsey, the manager for the Oak Ridge Boys and previously Clark (who died in 2018), told Billboard:
“I worked with him for years as a partner with the Roy Clark Show. Buck Trent is one of the greatest banjo players ever. We will all miss him. Thank you, Buck Trent, for being in all our lives.”
Lulu Roman of Hee Haw also provided a statement to Billboard:
“Buck was like a brother to me after all of these years. We’ve shared tons of laughs and some tears along the way, but we never left each other’s side. We had a bond like no other. I’ll miss the man, but cherish the memories from our 50+ year friendship. My heart breaks for his precious wife, Jean, his family, friends, and fans. There will never be another like Buck Trent. Oh Yea!”
Trent was remembered by Connie Smith on Instagram. She said:
“So sad to say goodbye to Buck Trent who passed away yesterday – an extraordinary musician who played in both Bill Monroe and Porter Wagoner’s band. Inventor of the electric banjo and part of the first country music act (along with Roy Clark) to tour the Soviet Union. A multiple-time winner of the Instrumentalist of the Year award, he played on Dolly Parton’s exceptional “Jolene” album. He was an outsized personality known for his signature phrase, ‘Uh-huh, oh yeah!’ accompanied by his thumbs-up gesture. He was one of my dear friends, and Buck, we’re really going to miss you. Oh yeah!”
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Trent was a truly legendary figure in country music. He lives on through his work, and will never be forgotten.
Rest in peace Buck Trent…