Dwight Yoakam is the oldest of three to David Yoakam (who served in the U.S. army) and Ruth Ann Tibbs. When he was very young, the family moved from Kentucky to Columbus, Ohio.
David ended up getting hold of a Kay Musical Instrument Company guitar while in the army and gave it to Dwight when he gave up learning to play it himself. When he was around ten years old, he wrote his first song, drawing inspiration from the records his parents were playing at home (like Johnny Cash), the country radio station WMNI, and rock and roll stars he was watching on the TV.
At school, Yoakam was encouraged to join the band and drama class. He later formed a rock band with friends (called The Greaser Band), so they could compete in the school’s talent show. They gained a great reputation and started performing at private parties in Columbus.
After a brief stint at Ohio State University, Yoakam decided to drop out and pursue music full-time. He moved to Nashville, Tennessee — the home of country music — and started testing out his material. He had a little trouble at the beginning, as his style was more similar to bluegrass and honky-tonk than the trendy Nashville sound of the moment. After moving to California and making connections with like-minded musicians, he gradually gained more exposure in the competitive music scene.
Yoakam found success once he released his debut album Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. in 1986, composing six of the album’s ten songs himself. It hit no.1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. Since then, Dwight has released 15 studio albums, topped charts throughout his country career, and won two Grammy Awards (he has been nominated for 18 in total).