The sub genre of country music – described as a mix of twangy guitars, drums, fiddle, and steel guitar – was a defiant reaction to the string orchestras and the polished sound of albums being recorded in Nashville during the 1950’s and 60’s.
Many musicians and entertainers were involved in making the Bakersfield Sound a global phenomenon, however none were more well-known than Country Music Hall of Fame® members Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Both artists cut their teeth at the bars and honkytonks around Bakersfield before gaining international prominence.
Owens would go on to have a extremely successful entertainment career, charting 21 number one hits including “Act Naturally” and "I've Got a Tiger By the Tail." Owens also spent nearly 17 years co-hosting the popular country-themed variety TV show Hee-Haw. Haggard, in trouble with the law in his early days, rose to fame with songs like "Okie From Muskogee" and “The Fightin Side of Me” among his 38 number one songs. Both artists have local streets named in their honor.
Perhaps the most popular artist aside from Owens to be influenced by the Bakersfield Sound is Dwight Yoakam. In 1988 Owens and Yoakam collaborated on “The Streets of Bakersfield,” a duet which became Yoakam’s first number one singles hit. Yoakam’s album, Dwight Sings Buck, is a tribute honoring the legacy of Owens and his lasting impact on country music.