On this day in 1956, honky-tonk country musician Dwight Yoakam was born
in Pikeville, Ky. Yoakam has a following of roots-rock fans, and he
has had a series of country hits, such as "Honky Tonk Man" and "Fast As
You," in the '80s and '90s.
Yoakam was raised in Ohio and learned to
play guitar when he was 6. He listened to such traditional country musicians as Hank Williams and
his idol, Bakersfield, Calif., honky-tonk legend Buck Owens. After high school,
Yoakam attended Ohio State University, but
he dropped out to try his luck on the
Nashville, Tenn., music scene.
In the '70s, when Yoakam arrived in Nashville, the town was more
interested in slick, pop-oriented country than Yoakam's back-to-roots
music. So Yoakam relocated to Los Angeles, where he and his friend,
guitarist Pete Anderson, played nightclubs that often hosted punk
rockers, such as X and the Dead Kennedys. Yoakam was able to expand
his fanbase by performing for the punk fans.
In 1984, Yoakam released an indie EP, A Town South of
Bakersfield, which got a great deal of attention from L.A. college
radio. Reprise Records quickly signed Yoakam and issued his first LP,
the platinum-certified Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. (1986).
The mostly self-written album was critically hailed and made the
country charts on the basis of two hit singles: a cover of Johnny
Horton's "Honky Tonk Man" and "Guitars, Cadillacs."
Hillbilly Deluxe (1987) was also a smash, yielding four top-10
country hits, including "Little Sister" and "Please, Please Baby." The
following year, Yoakam achieved his dream of recording with Owens. The
two remade Owens' hit "Streets of Bakersfield," which they took to the
top of the country chart. Yoakam was now widely recognized as one of
the artists who did the most to return country music to its roots.
Yoakam also hit #1 with "I Sang Dixie" from his 1988 release, Buenas
Noches from a Lonely Room. He had two more platinum-selling LPs
with If There Was a Way (1990) and 1993's This Time,
which featured three #2 country smashes: "Ain't That Lonely Yet" (a
Grammy winner for Best Male Country Vocal), "A Thousand Miles from
Nowhere" and "Fast as You." In 1991, Yoakam supported the Grateful Dead
on the road and contributed "Truckin' " to Deadicated, an album
of Dead covers.
It was more than two years before Yoakam's next album of new material,
1995's Gone, appeared. It wasn't as popular as its immediate
Yoakam also had begun acting and had a substantial role in the Academy
Award-winning film "Sling Blade" in 1996. Other films in which he has
appeared include "Red Rock West" (1992) and "The Newton Boys" (1998).
In 1997, Yoakam released a covers album, Under The Covers. This
Arms" (RealAudio excerpt).
Other birthdays: Wurzel (Motörhead), 49, and Weird Al Yankovic, 39.