singer, songwriter, actor
Birthplace: Pikeville, Kentucky
Yoakam helped turn country music away from the glossy country-pop sound that dominated in the '80s and forged a style that appealed to rock fans as readily as country aficionados. Dropping out of Ohio State University in the late '70s, he moved to Nashville where his stripped-down, rootsy sound was largely ignored. Abandoning Nashville for Los Angeles, he found acceptance in the early '80s rock-roots scene typified by bands like The Blasters and X. Local success of a self-released EP led to a contract with Warner/Reprise and the debut album Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. (1986), which spawned two top-five hit singles and platinum sales. Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room (1988) featured two number one hits, including the Buck Owens duet “Streets of Bakersfield.” Continuing his success through the '90s, This Time (1993) included the smash “Ain't That Lonely Yet,” which landed Yoakam a Grammy for Best Country Vocal. Later, Yoakam's sensual good looks helped him launch a film career, including a role in the Oscar-winning Sling Blade (1996). In 2000 he released two albums, the all-acoustic dwightyoakamacoustic.net and the electric Tomorrow's Sounds Today.