Dwight Yoakam

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

year, he issued Long Way Home, which included the single


Arms" (RealAudio excerpt).

Other birthdays: Wurzel (Motörhead), 49, and Weird Al Yankovic, 39.

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