Owens' family said he died in his sleep at his home in Bakersfield, California, according to the website of a concert hall and restaurant he owned. The cause of death was not immediately known.
Born Aug 12, 1929, in Texas to a poor farming family, Alvis E. Owens moved to California in the early 1950s and created what became known as the Bakersfield Sound, a mix of honky-tonk, twangy electric guitar and rock influences.
He learned guitar and mandolin as he was growing up, and had his first radio programme as a teenager. His first top 10 record, "Under Your Spell Again", was released in 1959.
Best known for his 1963 chart-topper "Act Naturally", Owens had some 20 number one hits over the next decade that made his reputation as a country music legend.
His TV show "Hee Haw" ran from 1969 until 1993, the year Owens was diagnosed with throat cancer that cost him part of his tongue.
Owens had three sons and was divorced from his third wife, according to entertainment website IMDb.com.