The Online Encyclopedia and Dictionary






Dwight Yoakam

Dwight David Yoakam (born October 23, 1956) is an American musician, songwriter, and actor.



Yoakam was born in Pikeville, Kentucky, and raised in Columbus, Ohio, growing up with his mother and step-father, who had a white collar job in the automotive industry. He graduated from Columbus's Northland High School on June 9, 1974. During his high school years, he excelled in both music and drama, regularly securing the lead role in school plays, such as Charlie in the stage version of Flowers for Algernon. Outside of school, Yoakam sang and played guitar with local garage bands, and frequently entertained his friends and classmates as an amateur comedian, impersonating politicians and other celebrities, such as Richard Nixon, who, at that time, was heavily embroiled in the Watergate controversy.

Yoakam briefly attended The Ohio State University, but dropped out and moved to Nashville in the late '70s with the intent of becoming a recording artist. When he began his career, Nashville was oriented towards pop Urban Cowboy music, and Yoakam's brand of Bakersfield honky tonk was not considered marketable. He began playing live in the Los Angeles area, performing with punk bands like Dead Kennedys, Butthole Surfers and X; and roots-rock bands The Blasters and Los Lobos.

Yoakam debuted with the college radio staple A Town South of Bakersfield in 1984 (1984 in music). His debut LP was 1986's Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. and it instantly launched his career (1986 in music). "Honky Tonk Man" (Johnny Horton) and "Guitars, Cadillacs" were hit singles. The follow-up LP, Hillbilly Deluxe , was just as successful. His third LP, Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room , included his first #1, a duet with Buck Owens, "Streets of Bakersfield". 1990's (1990 in music) If There Was a Way was another best-seller.

Yoakam's song Readin', Writin', and Route 23 pays tribute to his childhood move from Kentucky, and is titled after a local expression describing the route that rural Kentuckians need to take to find a job. (U.S. Highway 23 runs north from Kentucky through Columbus and Toledo, and through the automotive centers of Michigan.)

Yoakam has also taken some acting roles, most notably as the abusive alcoholic Doyle in Billy Bob Thornton's Sling Blade (1996) and as a psychotic killer in 2002's Panic Room. He has also appeared in Southern California live theater, combining his acting talents with the talents of director Peter Fonda.

Having diverged from pop-icon status in country-western faire, Yoakam is today more likely to be identified as having an older, or more traditional style, and mentioned with his contemporaries such as George Strait. But along with his bluegrass and honky-tonk roots, Yoakam has written or covered many Elvis Presley-style rockabilly songs, including his popular covers of Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" in 1999 and Presley's "Suspicious Minds." He even recorded a cover of the Clash's "Train In Vain" in 1997.


Full albums

  • Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. (Oak, 1984) - independent release
  • Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc. Etc. (Warner/Reprise, 1986)
  • Hillbilly Deluxe (Reprise, 1987)
  • Buenas Noches From A Lonely Room (Reprise, 1988)
  • If There Was A Way (Reprise, 1990)
  • This Time (Reprise, 1993)
  • Dwight Live (Reprise, 1995)
  • Gone (Reprise, 1995)
  • Come On Christmas (Reprise, 1997)
  • Under The Covers (Reprise, 1997)
  • A Long Way Home (Reprise, 1998)
  • (Reprise, 2000)
  • Tomorrow's Sounds Today (Reprise, 2000)
  • South Of Heaven, West Of Hell (Soundtrack) (Warner, 2001)
  • Population Me (Warner, 2003)

Greatest hits albums

  • Just Looking' For A Hit (Reprise, 1989)
  • This Is... (Warner-Japan, 1990)
  • L'Croix D'Amour (Warner-France, 1992)
  • Last Chance For A Thousand Years (Reprise, 1999)


  • Roswell (1994)
  • Sling Blade (1996)
  • The Newton Boys (1998)
  • Panic Room (2002)
  • Hollywood Homicide (2003)

External links

Last updated: 10-29-2005 02:13:46