182 voters

The Best Bakersfield Sound Bands/Artists

Updated November 5, 2019 406 votes 182 voters 11.4k views14 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.{#nodes}
  • Merle Ronald Haggard (April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016) was an American country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler. Haggard was born in Oildale, California, during the Great Depression. His childhood was troubled after the death of his father, and he was incarcerated several times in his youth. After being released from San Quentin State Prison in 1960, he managed to turn his life around and launch a successful country music career, gaining popularity with his songs about the working class that occasionally contained themes contrary to the prevailing anti-Vietnam War sentiment of much popular music of the time. Between the 1960s and the 1980s, he had 38 number-one hits on the US...  more
    • 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
    • Nationality: United States of America

    More Merle Haggard 

    The Best Merle Haggard Albums of All Time#477 of 739 The Best Singers of All Time#212 of 263 The Greatest Classic Rock Bands

    Spotify buy button
  • Dwight David Yoakam (born October 23, 1956) is an American singer-songwriter, musician, and actor, known for his pioneering style of country music. First becoming popular in the mid-1980s, Yoakam has recorded more than twenty albums and compilations, charted more than thirty singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, and sold more than 25 million records. He has recorded five Billboard #1 albums, twelve gold albums, and nine platinum albums, including the triple-platinum This Time. In addition to his many achievements in the performing arts, he is also the most frequent musical guest in the history of The Tonight Show....  more
    • 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
    • Nationality: United States of America

    More Dwight Yoakam 

    The Best Dwight Yoakam Albums of All Time#18 of 291 The Top Country Artists of All Time#281 of 542 The Greatest Guitarists Of All Time

    Amazon buy button
  • Buck Owens
    Photo: Metaweb (FB) / Fair use
    Alvis Edgar Owens Jr. (August 12, 1929 – March 25, 2006), professionally known 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, named after 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. His signature style was based on simple storylines, infectious choruses, a twangy...  more
    • 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
    • Nationality: United States of America

    More Buck Owens 

    The Best Buck Owens Songs#114 of 525 Which Artist Would You Bring Back From The Dead To Write One More Song?#25 of 186 The Best Male Country Singers of All Time

    Amazon buy button
  • Leonard Raymond Sipes (September 28, 1930 – March 14, 2000), better known as Tommy Collins, was an American country music singer and songwriter. Active primarily during the 1950s through the 1970s, Collins was instrumental in helping create the Bakersfield sound of the country music genre. He enjoyed a string of hits during the mid-1950s including "It Tickles" and "Watcha Gonna Do Now". He also wrote several songs for other artists, including "If You Ain't Lovin' (You Ain't Livin')", which was a top 10 hit for Faron Young in 1954 and a No. 1 hit by George Strait in 1988. After several years in the ministry, Collins returned to recording. In 1965, he had a comeback hit with "If You Can't...  more
    • Genres (Music): Bakersfield sound, Country
    Amazon buy button