Country  •  Honky Tonk

Bakersfield Sound

Bakersfield was the first genre of country music to rely heavily on electric instrumentation, as well as a defined backbeat -- in other words, it was the first to be significantly influenced by rock & roll. Named after the town of Bakersfield, California, where a great majority of the artists performed, the sound was pioneered by Wynn Stewart and popularized by Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Using telecaster guitars, the singers developed a clean, ringing sound that stood in direct opposition to the produced, string-laden Nashville sound. The Bakersfield sound became one of the most popular -- and arguably the most influential -- country genres of the '60s, setting the stage for country-rock and outlaw, as well as reviving the spirit of honky tonk.