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Dwight Yoakam Biography

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Birth Name: Dwight David Yoakam
Born: 1956/10/23
Birth Place: Columbus, Ohio, United States
Years Active: 1984–present
Genres: Country

Dwight Yoakam (born Dwight David Yoakam, October 23, 1956) is an American singer-songwriter, actor and film director, most famous for his pioneering country music. Yoakam was born in Pikeville, Kentucky, and in high school he sang and played guitar with local garage bands. He was active in his school’s drama and music departments as well.

When he began his career, Nashville was oriented toward pop urban cowboy music, and Yoakam's brand of hip honky tonk music was not considered marketable. Not making much headway in Nashville, Yoakam moved to Los Angeles and worked towards bringing his particular brand of new honky tonk forward into the 1980s.

Writing all his of own songs, and continuing to perform mostly outside traditional country music channels, Yoakam did many shows in rock and punk rock clubs around Los Angeles, playing with roots rock or punk rock acts like The Blasters, Los Lobos and X. This helped him diversify his audience beyond the typical country music fans, and his authentic, groundbreaking music is often credited with rock audiences accepting country music.

Yoakam's recording debut was the 1984 self-financed EP, “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.” on the independent label Oak Records and produced by lead-guitarist Pete Anderson. This was later re-released by Reprise records, with several additional tracks, as his major-label debut LP, 1986's “Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.” The tracks, “Honky Tonk Man,” and “Guitars, Cadillacs,” were hit singles. His stylish video for, “Honky Tonk Man,” was the first country music video ever played on MTV.

His follow-up LP, 1987’s “Hillbilly Deluxe,” was just as successful, and like his debut, reached #1 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. His third LP, 1988’s “Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room,” again topped the Country Albums chart. It included his first #1 hit single, a duet with his musical idol, Buck Owens, on “Streets of Bakersfield.” His next record, 1990's “If There Was a Way,” was another best-seller.

Yoakam’s fifth studio album, “This Time,” was issued in 1993. It included three tracks that went to #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart, “Ain't That Lonely Yet,” “A Thousand Miles from Nowhere” and “Fast as You.” The album itself peaked at #4 on the Country Albums chart. “Gone,” released in 1995, went to #5 on the Country Albums chart; however it was his first album not to produce a Top 10 Country hit.

In 1998 he released, “A Long Way Home,” featuring 13 tracks penned by Yoakam. It reached #11 on the Billboard Country Albums chart. “Tomorrow's Sounds Today,” his next album, was issued in 2000 and reached #7 on the Country Albums chart. It included two duets with Buck Owens, who was a big influence on Yoakam's musical style.

Yoakam starred and directed the 2001 motion picture, “South of Heaven, West of Hell,” which included a soundtrack featuring half country songs with the other half of the tracks playing short snippets of straight dialog scenes from the film itself. Yoakam then issued the solo album, “Population Me,” in 2003. It included the song, “If Teardrops Were Diamonds,” a duet with country music legend Willie Nelson.

“Blame the Vain,” Yoakam’s first album not produced by guitarist producer Pete Anderson, was released in 2005. Yoakam wrote all the songs and produced the album himself. In addition, he directed the videos for, “Intentional Heartache” and the title track. The album peaked at #8 on the Country Albums chart.

In 2007 Yoakam released an album dedicated to Buck Owens, entitled “Dwight Sings Buck.” In July 2011, Yoakam re-signed with Warner Bros. Nashville. His first album for the label, “3 Pears,” was released in 2012 with 12 new tracks. The album, which was produced by Yoakam, included collaborations with Kid Rock and Beck.