Long before he signed with Capitol Records and pioneered the "Bakersfield sound," the twangy, rock-indebted brand of California country that would make him an international superstar, Buck Owens was a struggling session musician and aspiring singer. Throughout the early and mid-'50s, he recorded for a series of independent labels, never dreaming he'd have the kind of career he did.

Next month, Rockbeat Records will shed new light on this crucial stage in Buck's artistic development, releasing 'Bound for Bakersfield 1953-1956: The Complete Pre-Capitol Collection.'

Due out September 27, the 24-track CD features songs Buck cut for the Pep, Chesterfield and La Brea labels, before he formed his backing band the Buckaroos and began incorporating the Telecaster guitars and driving rock rhythms that would become his trademarks.

According to Rich Kienzle, the country expert who penned the disc's liner notes, 'Bound for Bakersfield' reveals an important artist finding his voice.

"There were lessons to be learned and dues to be paid," Kienzle writes. "But in the final analysis, the Buck of legend, of the raw honky-tonk vocals, catchy commercial tunes, twangy Fender Telecasters and churning, aggressive 'freight train' rhythms was forged in Bakersfield's honky-tonks and recording studios there and in L.A. from 1951 to 1957."

Buck Owens was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1996. He died in 2006.