Buck Trent, Country Music Legend and Entertainer has died at the age of 85 due to natural causes.
(Monday, October 9, 2023 – Branson MO) Buck Trent, legendary country music instrumentalist and entertainer died on October 9, 2023, in Branson, MO. His wife and his best friend Jean of 37 years was by his side.
Born Charles Wilburn Trent in Spartanburg, SC on Feb. 17, 1938, Buck started his musical journey on a Hawaiian lap steel guitar. His mother bought him his first banjo when Buck told her that if she bought it for him, he’d make a living on it.
He started performing at the age of 10 on radio and at age 17 he went to Ashville, NC to perform with Cousin Wilbur and Blondie Brooks. In 1959 he moved to Nashville and joined the Bill Carlisle Show and made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. During this time, Buck invented the electric banjo by taking a Steven’s bar given to him by Howard White (then steel guitar player with Hank Snow) which White had filed down to use as a capo under the steel guitar strings. Buck noticed it was the same height as a bridge on an acoustic banjo, so he swapped it out and with the help of Shot Jackson, he put a pickup in the banjo to make it louder and history was made with the birth of the electric banjo.
In 1962, Buck joined the Porter Wagoner Show where he developed and honed the signature Porter Wagoner sound with his innovative banjo style of twisting strings and pushing levers to resemble the sound of a steel guitar. Buck also played 5-string banjo, dobro, guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, and bass guitar. His virtuoso musicianship coupled with his dazzling showmanship made him a permanent member of Wagoner’s original Wagonmaster Band for 12 years. He lived to be the final surviving member of the original band. During that time, he played on all the recordings of Pretty Miss Norma Jean’s records while she was part of the Porter Wagoner Show.
When Dolly Parton joined the lineup as the “girl singer” replacing Norma Jean on the Porter Wagoner Show, Buck not only played alongside her on the show, but he played on the recordings of many of her enormous hits including, “I Will Always Love You,” “Jolene,” “Coat of Many Colors,” “Mule Skinner Blues,” and “My Tennessee Mountain Home.” It was Buck’s reel-to-reel recorder he used to record the two of them making demos of her most famous songs.
Then in 1974, Buck joined forces with Roy Clark and they toured the world together where they were the first country music act to tour the Soviet Union. They released two albums together, “A Pair of Fives” and “Banjo Bandits” and they received the Country Music Association’s Instrumentalist Group of the Year Awards in 1975 and 1976. Buck became a regular on the long-running Hee-Haw show where his “Talking Blues” was a favorite recurring performance, ending every time with “Oh Yeah” which paired with a thumbs up became an instant classic signature phrase.
In 1991, Buck was the first national star to open a breakfast theater show in Branson, MO which ran until 2019 becoming one of the longest running morning shows in Branson’s history.
Buck’s final project was his, “Spartanburg Blues,” CD, produced by Marty Stuart and Bruce Hoffman and featured many of his friends including Dolly Parton, Connie Smith, Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives, Vince Gill, Pretty Miss Norma Jean, The Oak Ridge Boys, Jeannie Sealey, David Frizzell, Rhonda Vincent, Ricky Van Shelton, the Reno Brothers and Rodney and Beverly Dillard. His last television performance was in 2019 when he appeared with Dolly Parton on her Grand Ole Opry 50th anniversary celebration.
Buck was an avid golfer, playing every chance he could get, and all his years in Branson his residence was on the golf course, where if he wasn’t playing, he could talk to the golfers walking by. “Hey Pal!” was the way he greeted the golfers, his friends, and fans. In later years, he had custom signs to hold up to the golfers passing by that had his most popular sayings on them which he was known for, “Uh-huh” and “Oh Yeah” with two thumbs up.
Recently, Branson Mayor proclaimed December 13 as “Buck Trent Day” in Branson. On Friday, Oct. 13, 2023, the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City will posthumously induct Buck into the Banjo Hall of Fame for his five-string banjo performance alongside four others including Grandpa Jones.
Buck is preceded in death by his father Charles Hugh Trent; mother Viola Johnson Trent; aunt Florence Johnson Hood; sister Peggy Genell Trent Marlin; brothers-in-law Jimmy Revard and Ricky Revard; and nephew Jimmy Hyatt.
He is survived by his wife Jean Marie Trent; son Charles William Trent (Kim) of Lebanon TN; Daughter Melissa Trent Hood (David) of Hermitage TN; Grandchildren: Ben Trent of Nashville TN; Heather Hood Hamilton (Stevie) of LaVergne, TN; Amber Hood Vargas (Jose) of Lebanon TN; Laura Trent Yandell (Sebastian) of Mount Juliet TN; Great Grandchildren: Cruz Vargas, Sophia Vargas, Jamison Yandell, and Graysen Yandell; Nephews: Ronnie Hyatt (Elizabeth), Danny Hyatt of Greenville, SC; Niece: Diane Hyatt Coggins – Spartanburg, SC; Brothers-in-law Ron Revard (Jan); Paul Revard ( Kim); Kent Revard (Tracy); Mark Revard (Laurie); and numerous nieces and nephews.
The Trent family thanks you for your support through the years and loving thoughts at this time. Our gratitude to Dr. Charlie Rasmussen and Good Shepherd Hospice of Branson for their loving care of Buck. Services for Buck will take place in Nashville TN at the Spring Hill Funeral Home and Cemetery on Saturday, Oct 21. Visitation at 11:00 a.m. Service at 12 noon and interment at 1:00 pm. Family and friends are welcomed. The funeral home is located at 5110 Gallatin Pike S Nashville 37216. A memorial service will be held in Branson at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, donations to honor Buck’s memory may be made to Marty Stuart’s Congress of Country Music at
P.O. Box 1126 Philadelphia, MS 39350 or online at www.congressofcountrymusic.org/give.
For Immediate Release
Media Contact: Cindy Merry, 417-739-4925