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Merle Haggard, Buck Owens Among First Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame Inductees

Buck Owens
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

The Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame has announced its inaugural class of inductees. The Class of 2017 includes Merle Haggard, Buck Owens and more.

Haggard, Owens, Red Simpson, Billy Mize and Bonnie Owens will be inducted into the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame during a special ceremony on Jan. 27; two additional events, during which the five 2017 inductees will be honored, will be scheduled later in 2017 as well. The inductees will each be commemorated with a life-sized vinyl portrait and summary of their achievements to be placed on the Hall of Fame’s walls, as well as with a star, placed in the Hall of Fame’s concrete walkway.

The Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame seeks to honor those who were instrumental in creating the now-iconic “Bakersfield sound,” which countered the more-produced music coming out of Nashville in the 1950s and ’60s. Haggard and his band the Strangers and Owens and his Buckaroos, along with others, helped popularize Bakersfield, Calif.’s unconventional sound in local honky-tonks and on TV, and the “Bakersfield sound” influenced everyone from the Flying Burrito Brothers and the Grateful Dead to Dwight Yoakam, the Byrds and more.

“‘Bakersfield’ really is not exclusively limited to the town itself but encompasses the larger California country sound of the ’40s, ’50s and on into the ’60s, and even the ’70s …,” Yoakam once said. “I’ve got a poster of Buck Owens performing at the Fillmore West in 1968 in [San Francisco’s] Haight-Asbury [neighborhood]! What went on there led to there being a musical incarnation called country-rock.”

More information about the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame can be found at

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