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interview :: terry.cristoffersenPart of the current Buckaroo line-up, Terry filled the shoes of two major Buckaroos - Don Rich and Tom Brumley. Here's an exclusive Terry gave us on December 25, 2002.
Name: Terry Christoffersen Date of Birth: 4/3/45 Place of Birth: Van Nuys, CA Marital Status: Married
Q: How many years have you been performing/playing?
A: 45 years
Q: How may years have you been performing with Buck?
A: 25 years
Q: Describe how you came to be a Buckaroo?
A: I have known Jim Shaw since 1964 and we have worked in various bands together. He called me about 6 months after Don Rich was killed and introduced me to Buck. I didn't actually start playing with the Buckaroos until April 1975. This is when Jerry Brightman gave his notice, and Buck needed a Steel Player.
Q: Which instrument(s) do you play?
A: Pedal Steel, Lead Electric, 5-String Banjo, Dobro
Q: Do you play any other instruments, and if so, what? What is your favorite instrument to play?
A: My favorite is the steel.
Q: Before becoming a Buckaroo, were you a fan of Buck Owens? Did you own any Buck Owens albums?
A: I owned several of his single 45's because I was mainly a fan of Ralph Mooney. I was a fan of Buck's, Ray Price, and anyone else who used a lot of pedal steel.
Q: What bands did you perform with prior to becoming a Buckaroo?
A: Nobody famous. In the sixties I worked with some Fresno area rock bands, one band was with Jim Shaw called the "Moonstones". Before that, I was with a band called the "Deltas" - we had an album that is still available on Sundazed Records. Later, in the 70's, I was in a group called the "Sound Company". We were voted the ACM "non touring band of the year for 1974."
Q: Who were/are your musical influences?
A: I enjoy all kinds of music - country, rock, jazz, classical. There is some good and bad in all of them. I listened to a lot of Chet Atkins, and any pedal steel I could find.
Q: Describe what a typical day in your life is like.
A: I manage the Crystal Palace through the week, play music with Buck on the weekends, and go to Cal State Bakersfield in the evenings to get my B.S. Degree in Business with a concentration in M.I.S.
Q: What is your most memorable experience as a Buckaroo?
A: None really stands out, but it has all been a good experience.
Q: Do you have any memorabilia from your time with Buck. If so, which is your favorite and why?
A: I have collected a few things over the years and took some videos when we went overseas. Buck gave me a RWB guitar.
Q: Have you appeared on any albums? (Feel free to mention artists other than Buck.) If so, who and what album?
A: Before Buck, I played on a Dorsey Burnett album that Capitol released in the early 70's, but I don't know the name of it. I also picked on a couple of Buck's Warner Brothers albums, his "Hot Dog" album, and a few of the cuts on his "Act Naturally" album with Ringo Starr.
Q: As a musician, when performing, how much freedom do you have to change portions of a song. In other words, do you feel the freedom to play a part differently or do you feel that you should stick to the original?
A: Buck pretty much decides on the arrangements and the feel, but when we perform I am allowed quite a bit of discretion. I like to play "in the holes" to try and enhance the singer, rather than play a long series of hot licks. One of my pet peeves is players who don't know when "not" to play, and I have never been that fast, anyway.
Q: Do you have aspirations beyond being a Buckaroo? What do you see yourself doing 10 or 20 years from now?
A: I am 55 years old now, so I don't really see myself trying to strike out on my own. 10 or 20 years from now, ...who knows?
Q: Do you write any of your own music, and if so, has Buck ever performed it live or recorded it? What are the song titles?
A: I don't have any aspirations of being a song writer.
Q: What is the one (or two or three or . . .) things which strike you most about Buck?
A: He has always seemed to play music with "full confidence". He has always taken care of business. In the long run, he has always been fair with all of us.
Q: You carry quite a burden on stage, in that you fill the role of both Don Rich and Tom Brumley. Although you seem quite comfortable with it now, how did you initially react to filling such legendary shoes?
A: At first, I didn't think a lot about it because I was getting to play music and tour with Buck Owens. Besides, I had known Jim Shaw and Doyle for many years prior to working with Buck. There were a few times when I know that either Tom Brumley or Ralph Mooney was in the audience that I was nervous as a cat - I had only been playing pedal steel for 2 years when I started with Buck, so I didn't have a lot of confidence at the time.
Q: Thanks for the interview, Terry! As always, it's been a pleasure!
A: I hope this helps you out. If you have any other specific questions, feel free to e-mail me.