Dwight Yoakam and Buck Owens are two of the most influential country music artists of their time. They are both known for their distinctive style of honky-tonk music that originated from Bakersfield, California. But are they related by blood or just by musical affinity?
The First Encounter
According to CMT, Dwight Yoakam first met Buck Owens when he visited Owens’ Bakersfield radio station KUZZ before appearing at a local fair in 1987. Yoakam was a rising star at the time, and he admired Owens’ legacy as one of the pioneers of the Bakersfield sound. He invited Owens to join him on stage that night, not knowing that Owens had not performed live in years and had never sat in with anyone in Bakersfield before.
Owens accepted the invitation and surprised the audience with his appearance. He sang a few of his classic hits with Yoakam, including “Act Naturally” and “Streets of Bakersfield”. The latter song was written by Homer Joy, who had pitched it to Owens but was rejected. Yoakam had recorded his own version of the song for his album Hillbilly Deluxe, but he decided to re-record it as a duet with Owens after their successful performance.
The Hit Duet
“Streets of Bakersfield” became a huge hit for Yoakam and Owens, reaching No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1988. It was the first No. 1 hit for Owens in 16 years and the fifth for Yoakam. It also revived Owens’ career and introduced him to a new generation of fans.
The song is about a man who is down on his luck and wanders the streets of Bakersfield, looking for a place to belong. It reflects the struggles of many country musicians who moved to California from other states in search of fame and fortune, but faced rejection and hardship along the way.
According to Classic Country Music Stories, Yoakam said that he felt a connection with Owens through the song, as they both shared a similar background and experience. He said:
> “I think there’s an emotional bond between Buck and myself that goes beyond any kind of professional courtesy or respect. We’re both from rural areas that are very similar — eastern Kentucky for me, north Texas for him — and we both wound up in California looking for something.”
The Lasting Friendship
Yoakam and Owens developed a close friendship that lasted until Owens’ death in 2006. Yoakam described their relationship as “a combination of parent, sibling and peer”. He said that Owens was like a mentor, a brother and a friend to him, and that they had a lot of fun together.
Yoakam also said that he learned a lot from Owens, not only about music but also about life. He said:
> “He taught me how to be gracious, how to be generous, how to be humble. He taught me how to laugh at myself, how to not take myself too seriously. He taught me how to love country music.”
In 2007, Yoakam released an album titled Dwight Sings Buck, which was a tribute to his musical hero and friend. The album featured 15 songs written or popularized by Owens, including “Love’s Gonna Live Here”, “Cryin’ Time” and “I’ve Got a Tiger by the Tail”. Yoakam said that he wanted to honor Owens’ music and their friendship through the album.
The Final Answer
So, is Dwight Yoakam related to Buck Owens? The answer is no, they are not related by blood or by marriage. However, they are related by music and by heart. They share a common bond that transcends family ties and spans decades of country music history. They are two legends who found each other in the streets of Bakersfield and created some of the most memorable songs in the genre.