On This Date: Merle Haggard & Clint Eastwood Duet “Bar Room Buddies” Was #1 On Country Charts In 1980

Merle Haggard country music
Elektra Records

Who knew that a Merle Haggard and Clint Eastwood duet would be the recipe for a number one country hit?

“Bar Room Buddies” isn’t your conventional country song, but it managed to do the trick for country fans in 1980, when it made it all the way to the top spot on the US country music charts.

The song was written by Milton Brown, Cliff Crofford, Steve Dorff and Snuff Garrett, then was recorded by the unlikely duo of legendary country artist Merle Haggard and longtime actor and director Clint Eastwood.

Now you might be asking yourself “why did Haggard and Eastwood record a song together,” and that’s a valid question. Turns out it was for the 1980 movie Bronco Billy, which starred Eastwood as a stuntman and talented shooter who brings a struggling circus act back to life.

When you go back to the 1980’s and 1990’s, it seems like really any idea got the green light, as long as it was attached to a well known actor like Eastwood or Sylvester Stallone.

The movie itself did okay commercially, making back the production cost and then some. However, Eastwood considered it to be unsuccessful, even conceding in an interview:

“It was an old-fashioned theme, probably too old fashioned since the film didn’t do as well as we hoped. But if, as a film director, I ever wanted to say something, you’ll find it in Bronco Billy.”

And that’s okay that the Clint Eastwood western-comedy movie didn’t do all that well, because the hit song “Bar Room Buddies” from Bronco Billy‘s soundtrack performed extremely well on the country charts.

The song is rather short in length (which might have been a good thing considering Eastwood’s limited vocal range) and surprisingly had tremendous success on its own. “Bar Room Buddies” quickly flew up the country charts, and stayed at number one on the Billboard country charts for a total of 13 weeks.

Was it Haggard’s classic style that caused the song to have success, or was it the novelty of western film star Clint Eastwood singing on it that made people want to listen to it?

I’m not really sure what the answer is to that question, so feel free to listen to it yourself and see what you think:

And if the idea of Clint Eastwood starring in a western-style comedy intrigues you, may I present to you the theatrical trailer for Bronco Billy.

With all due respect, Eastwood looks pretty old in this movie, and it came out 43 years ago.

Take a look:

Doesn’t look terrible, but doesn’t look great either. If I’m being honest, it’s kind of a long trailer.

I feel like I saw the whole movie already…

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock