Bands/Musicians The Best Bakersfield Sound Bands/Artists  

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167 votes 89 voters 6.6k views 14 items

In the illustrious history of country music, there have been a handful of cities that have spawned a particular movement that has changed the genre. Bakersfield, Ca is one of those rare cities. Outlaw country music, also known to some as the Bakersfield sound, was a reaction to the slicked up sound that was emanating from Nashville that was more pop friendly. Some of the best outlaw country artists are from the small California outpost. The sound, which is a mix of honky-tonk and rock n roll, created some of the biggest names in country music.

So, who are the best Bakersfield sound artists? It's not an easy question to answer, but at or around the top needs to be Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Both of these universally recognized singers are closely associate with the Bakersfield sound and their legacies have endured over the years. Their music is distinct enough to help the Bakersfield sound become more popular with people outside of the area. While those two musicians are easily the most familiar, there are also a slew of other artists who helped bring the Bakersfield sound to the masses.

This list of Bakersfield sound artists seeks to determine who can be considered the best musician to emerge from the California city. If you think someone is missing from this list, feel free to add them. This list answers the questions "who are the best Bakersfield sound bands of all time?" and "who is the greatest Bakersfield sound musician ever?" It's up to you to decide who should wear the crown.(14 items)
Merle Haggard is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Bakersfield Sound Bands/Artists
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Merle Haggard


Merle Ronald Haggard is an American country and Western song writer, singer, guitarist, fiddler, and instrumentalist. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster and the unique mix with the traditional country steel guitar sound, new vocal harmony styles in which the words are minimal, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville Sound recordings of the same era. By the 1970s, Haggard was aligned with the growing outlaw country movement, and has continued to release successful albums through the 1990s and into the 2000s. In 1994, he was inducted into the Country ...more on Wikipedia

Genres (Music): Outlaw country, Bakersfield sound, Country

Albums: A Country Christmas With Merle Haggard, I'm a Lonesome Fugitive / Mama Tried, Last of the Breed, A Christmas Present, If We Make It Through December, + more

Nationality: United States of America

Labels: MCA Records, Curb Records, Epic Records, Vanguard Records, Capitol Records

Career Began: Bakersfield, California, United States of America

Also Ranked

#3 on The Top Country Artists of All Time

#60 on Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song?

#5 on The Best Male Country Singers of All Time

#8 on The Best Country Singers with Deep Voices

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Buck Owens is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Bakersfield Sound Bands/Artists
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Buck Owens


Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr., known professionally as Buck Owens, was an American musician, singer, songwriter and band leader who had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts with his band the Buckaroos. They pioneered what came to be called the Bakersfield sound, a reference to Bakersfield, California, the city Owens called home and from which he drew inspiration for what he preferred to call American music. While Owens originally used fiddle and retained pedal steel guitar into the 1970s, his sound on records and onstage was always more stripped-down and elemental, incorporating elements of rock and roll. His signature style was based on simple storylines, infectious choruses, a ...more on Wikipedia

Genres (Music): Bakersfield sound, Country

Albums: The Buck Owens Collection (1959-1990), Christmas With Buck Owens and His Buckaroos, I Don't Care, Your Tender Loving Care, The Instrumental Hits of Buck Owens and His Buckaroos, + more

Nationality: United States of America

Labels: Sundazed Records, Rhino Entertainment, Warner Bros. Records, Capitol Records

Career Began: Bakersfield, California, United States of America

Also Ranked

#44 on The Top Country Artists of All Time

#28 on The Best Male Country Singers of All Time

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Dwight Yoakam is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Bakersfield Sound Bands/Artists
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kath added Dwight Yoakam


Dwight David Yoakam is an American singer-songwriter, actor and film director, most famous for his pioneering country music. Popular since the early 1980s, he has recorded more than 21 albums and compilations, charted more than 30 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, and sold more than 25 million records. Yoakam has recorded 5 Billboard #1 Albums, 12 Gold Albums, and 9 Platinum Albums, including the Triple Platinum This Time. In addition to his many achievements in the performing arts, Yoakam is also the most frequent musical guest in the history of The Tonight Show. ...more on Wikipedia

Genres (Music): Rockabilly, Country rock, Country

Albums: Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room, 3 Pears, Come On Christmas, A Long Way Home, If There Was a Way, + more

Nationality: United States of America

Labels: New West Records, Koch Entertainment, Reprise Records, Warner Bros. Records, E1 Music

Career Began: Columbus, Ohio, United States of America

Also Ranked

#28 on The Top Country Artists of All Time

#14 on The Best Male Country Singers of All Time

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The Buckaroos is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Bakersfield Sound Bands/Artists
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The Buckaroos


The Buckaroos were a Grammy-winning band led by Buck Owens in the 1960s and early '70s, who were heavily involved in the development and presentation of the "Bakersfield Sound." Their peak of success was from 1965-1970. In 2005, CMT named the Buckaroos No. 2 on its list of the 20 Greatest Country Music Bands. ...more on Wikipedia

Genres (Music): Bakersfield sound, Rockabilly, Country

Albums: Carnegie Hall Concert, The Best of the Buckaroos

Labels: Capitol Records

Career Began: Bakersfield, California, United States of America

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