Dwight Yoakam is an American singer-songwriter who is known for his country music starting in the late 1980s and he has been releasing albums ever since.
Yoakam was born in Kentucky in 1956 and had an interest in music at an early age. He learned how to play guitar when he was six years old and participated in school plays. He played guitar in garage bands, playing rock and roll and country music. He went to Ohio State University before eventually dropping out to focus on his music career. He moved to Nashville and then to Los Angeles with his music partner, Pete Anderson, to play at country clubs and punk band-dominated nightclubs. Yoakam didn't do as well in Nashville because his radical music style didn't match the refined music coming out of Nashville.
In 1984, Yoakam released an EP, "A Town South Of Bakersfield," which had a lot of playtime on college and alternative radio stations. This EP helped him sign a record deal with Reprise Records. With Reprise Records, in 1986, he released his debut album, "Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc." The album became immediately popular and eventually went platinum. Three songs from the album, including "Guitars, Cadillacs" and a cover of Johnny Horton's "Honky Tonk Man" were sent to the Top 40 of the Hot Country Singles chart of the year.
Yoakam's second album, "Hillbilly Deluxe," and third album, "Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room," were also huge successes. Yoakam and Yoakam's albums were well received by rock and country critics. His work was also praised by Johnny Cash and well talked about in media outlets and publications like "Time Magazine." His fifth album, "This Time" (1993), featured a song called "Ain't That Lonely Yet" which peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks and won Yoakam a Grammy award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance. Yoakam continued to release music into the 1990s and 2000s.
Yoakam also forged a successful acting career. His first major role was in the 1996 film "Sling Blade." The movie did well commercially and won an Oscar. He also worked as an actor, director, and co-writer on the film "South of Heaven, West of Hell" (2001). He appeared in multiple other films and TV movies including "The Newton Boys" (1998), "Wedding Crashers" (2005) and "Logan Lucky" (2017).
More recently, in 2016, Yoakam released the album "Swimmin' Pools, Movie Stars..." which showcased a more bluegrass sound. This was unexpected and different considering his leaning towards duets and tributes.
Yoakam was influenced by rock and roll and country artists from the 1950s and as a child, he listened to traditional country musicians like Hank Williams and Johnny Cash. Yoakam received support from fans who attended his shows who called themselves "cowpunks," most likely derived from Yoakam's combination of country music with rebellious attitude.