Dwight Yoakam

Active - 1988 - 2021  |   Born - Oct 23, 1956 in Pikeville, Kentucky, United States  |   Genres - Music, Comedy, Western, Drama, Action

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Biography by Lucia Bozzola

A top-selling country music star since the mid-'80s, multi-talented Dwight Yoakam branched out into acting in the 1990s.

Born in Kentucky, Yoakam was raised in Ohio and attended college at Ohio State University. Inspired by music since childhood, Yoakam dropped out of school to move to Nashville in the late '70s. Finding the Nashville scene less than accommodating for his interpretation of country music, Yoakam subsequently headed to Los Angeles. Striking music gold with his first album in 1986, Yoakam became a renowned country-rock singer/songwriter of the '80s and '90s.

Casting an eye on another facet of Los Angeles' entertainment world, Yoakam began acting. After appearing on TV, Yoakam played a truck driver in John Dahl's acclaimed neo-noir Red Rock West (1993); he then provided the music score for Red Rock West star Dennis Hopper's 1994 comedy Chasers. Yoakam played a larger part in the TV docudrama Roswell (1994) (not to be mistaken for the 1999 teen series). After moving to a starring role as a rodeo clown in the action movie Painted Hero (1995), Yoakam earned critical raves for his intense performance as an abusive drunk in Billy Bob Thornton's Oscar-winning drama Sling Blade (1996). Yoakam again garnered positive notices (though the movie did not) as a humble safecracking associate of the titular gang in The Newton Boys (1998). Sticking with off-center screen fare, Yoakam subsequently starred as one of the detectives that Owen Wilson's serial killer Van imagines is stalking him in Hampton Fancher's idiosyncratic crime story The Minus Man (1999). Aiming to try more creative pursuits, Yoakam wrote and directed, as well as scored and starred in, his next film, South of Heaven, West of Hell (2000). Yoakam returned to acting in David Fincher's thriller The Panic Room (2001).

Yet despite his neverending drive to entertain, it wasn't all showbiz for the former country-boy made good, and in early 2006 Yoakam would team up with Modern Foods to produce his very own line of southern-flavored frozen foods. With products such as Dwight Yoakam's Chicken Lickin's Chicken Fries, Lanky Links Pork, Sausage Links, and Boom Boom Shrimp, the Grammy-winning recording artist and increasingly popular actor would do his very best to ensure that his fans were well fed. A 2005 new album entitled Blame the Vain found Yoakam recapturing the energy and intensity that defined his earliest and best musical efforts, and following a role as a neglectful sheriff in Tommy Lee Jones' The Three Buriels of Melquaides Estrada and a rare comedic turn in Wedding Crashers, Yoakam sould next be seen in the edge-of-your-seat assassin-on-the-run action thriller Crank. He had a bit part in the comedy Four Christmases, and returned for the sequel Crank High Voltage. He made a few more film appearances, but returned to music in 2012 with the release of his album 3 Pears.

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  • Began playing guitar at 6 and had composed his first song by the age of 8.
  • Moved to Los Angeles after being rejected in Nashville because his honky-tonk style was considered unmarketable.
  • Released his debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., in 1986 on Reprise Records.
  • Made his big-screen debut with a bit part in 1993 film noir Red Rock West.
  • Has appeared in a number of  films with Vince Vaughn, including Wedding Crashers (2005), Four Christmases (2008) and South of Heaven, West of Hell (2000), a Western Yoakam wrote and directed.
  • Lends his name to a line of frozen foods called Dwight Yoakam's Bakersfield Biscuits.