Country Music Hall of Fame


The Bakersfield Sound:  Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country

March 24, 2012 - December 31, 2014

The working-class city of Bakersfield, California, gave birth to an exciting, raw-edged style of country music that enjoyed tremendous popularity in the 1960s and continues to resonate with musicians and fans today. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard were the most successful exponents of the Bakersfield Sound, with its piercing electric guitars, unsweetened barroom feel, and honest, down-to-earth songs.

Owens and Haggard rose to iconic status on the shoulders of a Bakersfield music scene created by broad cultural changes from the 1930s through the 1950s. Southerners seeking work in Bakersfield's abundant farmlands and oil fields made up an audience hungry for the sounds of home. Western swing and honky-tonk proved particularly popular, and with time Bakersfield musicians created their own distinctive, influential sound-two thousand miles from country music's epicenter in Nashville.

Watch a short video of Dwight Yoakam and Merle Haggard discussing the Bakersfield Sound.

Watch More Bakersfield Sound Videos

Bakersfield Sound Exhibit Opening

Panel Discussion: My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers with Merle Haggard and the Strangers

Together Again: Pioneers of the Bakersfield Sound

Panel Discussion: The Buckaroos: Making Music With Buck Owens

Concert: Under Your Spell Again: The Sounds of Bakersfield