Exactly 33 years ago today, Buck Owens used his talents to get out of a speeding ticket.
The late pioneer of the Bakersfield Sound made a cameo on the wildly popular show, The Dukes of Hazzard, on December 18, 1981, finding himself caught in Sheriff Roscoe P. Coltrane’s “Celebrity Speed Trap.” To work off his fine, he performed his 1964 classic, “I’ve Got a Tiger By the Tail,” at the show’s fictitious Boar’s Nest restaurant, owned by Hazzard County’s crooked commissioner, Boss Hogg.
Tammy Wynette, Roy Orbison, Dottie West, the Oak Ridge Boys and Mel Tillis were just a few of the additional artists caught speeding in Hazzard County. The recurring “Celebrity Speed Trap” bit, which started in the second season, was the show’s way of integrating the hottest contemporary country music. It was also a time-filler, usually placed at the end of episodes with shorter storylines. Boss Hogg was the orchestrator of the scheme, sending Sheriff Roscoe out to place fake, ridiculously low speed limit signs in places where he knew celebrities would be driving through. It was his way of strong-arming the best talent to perform in his restaurant.
Longer, more acting-involved cameos on the show included Loretta Lynn in a 1980 episode in which she was kidnapped. Mickey Gilley played himself in a sketch that involved Boss Hogg attempting to sell an illegal recording of a concert. And the one country artist most closely associated with Dukes was, of course, Waylon Jennings, who was the show’s narrator for all seven seasons and also wrote and performed its theme song.
The Dukes of Hazzard, starring Tom Wopat (Luke Duke) and John Schneider (Bo Duke) — also country singers in their own rights — aired from 1979—1985.