Since the start of his music career, DWIGHT YOAKAM (Raoul) has proven he's more than just another guy with a guitar and a hat. Yoakam has risen from hot country star to being one of country music's biggest influences. While doing that, he has also become a critically acclaimed actor.
After a fruitful high school acting career, in 1977, Yoakam moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music. At the time, Nashville was moving away from the traditional country sound that Yoakam was playing.
After a brief time there, he moved to California, which was more receptive to the music he was doing. He hooked up with producer/guitar virtuoso Pete Anderson in 1982. That began a musical relationship which became country music's equivalent to rock's Glimmer Twins (Mick Jagger and Keith Richards). Additional financing to finish making a high quality recording came from an insurance check that he received for repairs to his El Camino, after a minor traffic accident, and money raised from a benefit classical music concert staged by UCLA music professor Dr. Robert Winter. With the funds, they completed recording an
e.p. that captured the "Dwight Yoakam sound." In 1984, Yoakam released the six-song
e.p. (extended play record) "Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc." on the independent Oak label, then hit the road with such artists as Los Lobos and The Violent Femmes. Playing traditional country music, Yoakam gained a following among not only country fans but punk rockers and rockabilly fans as well. This eclectic fan base brought him to the attention of many record labels.
Warner Brothers signed him to the newly revived Reprise Record label in 1985.
At the time, country music was in the waning days of its "Urban Cowboy" (1980) phase, and fans of country were hungry for something "new." After establishing himself in the music industry, Yoakam set his sights on his second love, acting. In 1991, Yoakam appeared as a stuntman/country singer in an episode of "P.S.I. Luv U." This became the beginning of Yoakam's professional acting career. In 1992, Yoakam appeared on the big screen for the first time in the Nicolas Cage/Dennis Hopper film "Red Rock West." In 1993, Yoakam released what is considered a masterpiece, the album "This Time." He supported the album with a tour that lasted over a year and covered the world. Also that year, he starred in the play "Southern Rapture," which was directed by Peter Fonda, at the Met Theatre in Los Angeles. In 1994, he received his first Grammy for the "This Time" album's single, "Ain't That Lonely Yet," and acted in the Showtime film "Roswell." In 1996, Yoakam co-starred in Billy Bob Thornton's film "Sling Blade." His performance as the evil Doyle Hargraves left audiences speechless and critics hailing his acting. Yoakam was included with the cast who were among the nominees for "Best Cast" by the Screen Actors Guild. As the 1990s drew to a close, Yoakam proved that his music didn't have to suffer as he pursued more ventures into movies.
While filming "The Newton Boys" (1998), Yoakam wrote what many consider his most personal album, "A Long Way Home." Yoakam began 1999 with a Grammy win for his contribution to the track "Same Old Train" from the various artists' album "Tribute to Tradition."
Yoakam then added two new items to his resume: director and screenplay writer. In "South of Heaven, West of Hell" (2000), he not only starred, he made his directorial debut on a screenplay he co-authored.
Dwight Yoakam continues to prove that he is able to successfully have careers in both film and music, without either profession suffering.
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