Buck Owens, Merle Haggard headline massive ‘Bakersfield Sound’ box set

Bear Family Records’ The Bakersfield Sound 1940-1974 will be available August 9th

When Buck Owens and Merle Haggard emerged from the dim lights, thick smoke and loud, loud music of Bakersfield, California’s thriving honky-tonk scene of the 50’s and 60’s, they changed country music forever. “We represent the end results of all the years of country music in this town,” Haggard once remarked about the California city that served as home base for the two Country Music Hall of Fame inductees.

But how were the twin pillars of the “Bakersfield Sound” shaped by the Central California’s city’s larger musical community? Who paved the way for their successes and who were their influences? The Bakersfield Sound 1940-1974 answers these questions and more.

Due from Bear Family on August 9th, this sprawling 10 CD box set is the first multi-disc anthology to cover Bakersfield’s country music heritage. Diving deep into the “Bakersfield Sound,” the compilation’s 307 tracks include plenty of fan favorites as well as a vast quantity of deep cuts, alternate takes, radio recordings, demos, live material, and previously unreleased studio recordings.

The massive collection begins with 40’s field recordings of migrants who arrived in Central California to find a better life, and proceeds to trace the development of this historic country music scene all the way through 1974. A turning point year for the Bakersfield Sound, 1974 stands as the last full year Merle Haggard made his home in the city; the year of Buck Owens’ final Top 10 hit as a solo artist; and the year local guitar hero Don Rich was killed in a motorcycle accident.

Offering a glimpse into the early days of the Bakersfield Sound are rare recordings from early pioneers Tex Butler, Tex Marshall, and Ebb Pilling, along with a Bakersfield radio studio performance by Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys from the mid-40’s. During this era, Bakersfield served as a regular major tour stop for this fabled Western Swing ensemble.

The set reveals fascinating historic material: previously unheard work tapes of a recently-paroled Merle Haggard recording demos with only his acoustic guitar to accompany him (likely the earliest existing recording of Merle’s voice); a newly discovered Haggard session for Tally Records that was believed to have been lost and has never been issued before; and previously unknown live recordings of Buck Owens and the Buckaroos at the very last of Buck’s legendary annual Toys for Tots shows before Don Rich’s death. Included, too, are unreleased recordings by Red Simpson, Billy Mize, Bonnie Owens, and Johnny Bond; radio broadcasts from the stage of the legendary Blackboard Café; and an early Bill Woods vanity record that predates any of his previously known recorded output.

This treasure trove of Bakersfield music history also contains many significant “firsts,” from songwriting legend Harlan Howard’s first recording (for Bakersfield’s Tally Records); to Harlan’s then-wife Jan Howard’s first known demo recording (cut in Lewis Talley’s studio); to Barbara Mandrell’s very first solo recording on Mosrite Records; and legendary bandleader Johnny Barnett’s only known single (the first song written by Merle Haggard to have ever been commercially released).

Dozens of nearly-impossible-to-find recordings from local labels of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s have been assembled together for the first time. Many of the selections have never been reissued, and some haven’t seen the light of day since their initial release. In some cases, only a handful of 78 or 45 rpm records were ever pressed, and the songs have been long forgotten until now.

Known as “Nashville West,” Bakersfield proved to be a fertile musical breeding ground, boosting the careers of such nationally known country artists as Ferlin Husky, Tommy Collins, Dallas Frazier, Jean Shepard, Wynn Stewart, Tommy Duncan, Al Brumley, Dick Curless, Joe & Rose Lee Maphis, The Gosdin Brothers, Kay Adams, Clarence White, and Roy Nichols — who all can be heard on this anthology.

The Bakersfield Sound 1940-1974, furthermore, reveals the impressive depth of the city’s music scene by shining the spotlight on regional stars like Cliff Crofford, Herb Henson, Jimmy Thomason, Billy Barton, Fuzzy Owen, Semie Moseley, Don Markham, Tommy Dee, Jelly Sanders, Oscar Whittington, Johnny Barnett, Vancie Flowers, Bobby Durham, Bob Morris, Bobby Austin, Gary Paxton, Ronnie Sessions, Gene Moles, Tony Booth, Freddie Hart, and David Frizzell.

Besides its mother lode of music, The Bakersfield Sound 1940-1974 comes with an accompanying full-colored illustrated 220 page book featuring a plethora of photos (many shown for the first time), a foreword by Foo Fighters guitarist (and huge country music fan) Chris Shiflett, in-depth analysis by Grammy-nominated Bakersfield Sound historian Scott B. Bomar, profiles on each artist, and a track-by-track commentary.

This unparalleled 10 CD collection wonderfully illuminates how a country music cottage industry transformed Bakersfield into the Country Music Capital of the West, and ignited speculation that the city could become a serious challenge to Nashville’s commercial country dominance.

10 CD

CD 1:

1. Lloyd Stalcup – The Cotton Picker’s Song
2. Homer Pierce – Darlin’ Baby
3. Jack Bryant – Sunny Cal
4. Mary Sullivan – Sunny California
5. Wayne ‘Gene’ Dinwiddle – Home In The Government Camp
6. King Family – Get Along Down To Town
7. Lloyd Reading – Home In San Antone
8. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys – Opening Theme / Seven Come Eleven
9. Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys – Get Along Home Cindy
10. Elwin Cross and his Arizona Wranglers – Back In Dear Old Oklahoma
11. The Maddox Brothers and Rose – Okie Boogie
12. Bob Manning (vocal: Billy Gray) – Reading Your Letter With Tears In My Eyes
13. Leon Payne – Lost Highway
14. Tex Marshall & Bill Woods – Hittin’ The Trail
15. Leo ‘Tex’ Butler – When The Leaves Come Tumbling Down
16. Bill Woods / Cliff Crofford – Have I Got A Chance With You
17. The Maddox Brothers and Rose – Water Baby Blues (Boogie)
18. Terry Preston – (A Pretty Woman Is A) Deadly Weapon
19. Terry Preston – I Want You So
20. Herb Henson – Funny Book
21. Jimmy Thomason – Honey Baby
22. Jimmy Thomason – Your Love Was Like The Weater
23. Hillbilly Barton – You Made Me Love You
24. Ebb Pilling and his Ozark Squirrel Shooters – Ozark Polka
25. Bill Woods and his Orange Blossom Playboys with Hillbilly Barton – A Heart Break Ago
26. Fuzzy & Bonnie Owens – A Dear John Letter
27. Bill Woods & Rita Goodwin – Dear John
28. Billy Mize with Bill Woods and his Orange Blossom Playboys – Pusan
29. Ferlin Husky – Hank’s Song
30. Joe Maphis & Rose Lee – Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)

CD 2:

1. Tommy Collins – You Better Not Do That
2. Dallas Frazier – Ain’t You Had No Bringin’ Up At All
3. Bud Hobbs – Louisiana Swing
4. Forest Lee & Clete Stewart – When I Hold You
5. Buck Owens – Down On The Corner Of Love
6. Dave Stogner with Al Brumley – Stepping Stones
7. Herb Henson & Joyce Yours – Out Of Line
8. Semie Moseley – When The Saints Go Marching In
9. Jean Shepard – Take Possession
10. The Farmer Boys – It Pays To Advertise
11. Wynn Stewart – Why Do I Love You So
12. Tommy Duncan – Crazy Mixed Up Kid
13. Johnny Taylor – Sad Sad Saturday Night
14. Wanda Jackson – I Gotta Know
15. Billy Mize – Who Will Buy The Wine
16. Al Coker with the Coker Family – Baby I Like Your Style
17. Louise Duncan – Wherever You Are
18. Sid Silver – Bumble Rumble
19. Andy Morris – I Need Her Love
20. Dusty Payne – I Want You
21. Fuzzy Owen – Your Every Thing (I Wish That She Could Be)
22. Bonnie Blue Bell – I Never Thought
23. Jan Howard – What Time Tomorrow
24. George Rich – Drivin’ Away My Blues
25. Bill Woods – Ask Me No Questions
26. Fuzzy Owen – Beware Of A Stranger
27. Skeets McDonald – Keep Her Off Your Mind
28. Dave Stogner – Yes Sir
29. Harlan Howard – Fun On The Freeway
30. Cliff Crofford – A Night For Love
31. The Farmer Boys – Someone To Love
32. Buck Owens – Come Back To Me

CD 3:

1. Reuben Chapman with Coy Baker & His Band – I’m Sorry Too
2. Don Thompson with Coy Baker & His Band – Empty Days And Lonely Nights
3. Phil Brown – You’re A Luxury
4. unknown – Steady Lovin’
5. Johnny Bond – I Like That Kind
6. Henry Sharp – Crazy Moon
7. Gene Martin with the Desert Stars – Pair Of Empty Arms
8. Herb Henson – You’al Come
9. Lewis Talley – Letters Have No Arms
10. Buck Owens – Second Fiddle
11. Billy and Cliff – When
12. Billy Mize – You Can’t Take Your Love Outta This Boy
13. Billy Kaundart – I Removed Your Ring
14. Larry Bryant – Keep Right On Tryin
15. Buck Owens – Tired Of Livin’
16. Joe Hall – Cold Hearted Woman
17. Owen Charles – Stage Coach
18. Rip Goodman and Marcia – If I Could Only Tell You
19. George Latta – Our Hearts
20. Buck Owens – Til These Dreams Come True
21. Billy and Cliff – Living Up To My Name
22. Don Markham & The Marksmen – Goose, Pt. 1
23. Bonnie Owens – Just For The Children’s Sake
24. Wally Lewis – My Baby Walks All Over Me
25. Wynn Stewart – Playboy
26. Al Brumley – Someone’s Gonna Get Hurt
27. Jackie Kelley – Door Of Temptation
28. Jelly Sanders – Fiddlin’ Country Style
29. Buck Owens & Rose Maddox – Loose Talk
30. Jimmy Patton – What Will I Do (With All These Memories)
31. Tommy Dee – Loving You (On Someone Elses’ Time)
32. Custer Bottoms & Jack and Jerry – Why Tell Me

CD 4:

1. Buck Owens – King Of Fools
2. The Marksmen – Scratch
3. Jerry Cornelius and the Golden Eagles – It’s My Turn To Cry
4. Wayne Morris – I Can’t Stop Lovin’
5. Wayne Morris – I Pretend
6. Bill Woods – Truck Drivin’ Man
7. Billy Bledsoe – My Last Night In Town
8. Leon Hart – New Home Sweet Home
9. Kenny Hays – Crossing My Fingers
10. Kenny Hays – Foolish Notions
11. Georgia Lynn – On Your Wedding Day
12. Tommy Lewis – Go Where You Wanta Go
13. Vancie Flowers – Private Party
14. Buck Owens – There’s Gonna Come A Day
15. Anita Cross – Why Should I Cry Again
16. Bonnie Owens – Waggin’ Tongues
17. Rollie Weber – Painting The Town
18. Johnny Barnett – Too Old To Hurt
19. Merle Haggard – Skid Row
20. Bill Meyers – Good-Bye Mr. Blues
21. Buck Owens – If You Ain’t Lovin’ You Ain’t Livin’
22. Bill Bledsoe – Tell Me Why
23. Bob Morris – Put Your Arms Around Him
24. Roy Nichols – Silver Bells
25. Buck Owens – Act Naturally (live)
26. Merle Haggard – Life In Prison
27. Bobby Durham – My Past Is Present
28. Bobby Durham – Queen Of Snob Hill
29. Vancie and Rita – Tears In My Beer
30. Rose Stassi – Out Of My Mind

CD 5:

1. Buck Owens – Close Up The Honky Tonks
2. Merle Haggard & Bonnie Owens – Slowly But Surely
3. Bob Hortter – Working Overtime
4. Jim Witlock – S.O.S.
5. Buck Owens – Fallin’ For You
6. Merle Haggard – If I Had Left It Up To You
7. Merle Haggard – I’m Gonna Break Every Heart I Can (Tally)
8. Merle Haggard – I’m Gonna Break Every Heart I Can (Capitol)
9. Tommy Duncan – I Wish I Hadn’t Called You
10. Jim Ward – Red Wine
11. Lewis Talley – More Wine, More Women, More Song
12. Merle Haggard & Bonnie Owens – I’ll Take A Chance
13. Don Rich & The Buckaroos – I’m Layin’ It On The Line
14. Buck Owens – There Never Was A Fool
15. Doyle Holly & The Buckaroos – After You Leave Me
16. Dee Mize (aka Buddy Mize) – Just Leave My World Alone
17. Billy Mize – Walking My Fool
18. Liz Anderson – (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers
19. Tommy Collins – If You Can’t Bite Don’t Growl
20. Jeanie O’Neal – Alcohol And Tears
21. Bobby Durham – Home Is Where I Hang My Head
22. Red Simpson – Jeannie With The Light Brown Cadillac
23. Merle Haggard – Swinging Doors (alternate take)
24. Kay Adams – Roll Out The Red Carpet
25. Dick Curless & Kay Adams – Old Standby
26. Buck Owens – House Of Memories
27. Buck Owens – Tiger By the Tail (live at Carnegie Hall)
28. Vicki Lester – Fool Me Again
29. Ray Salter – The Bad Guy Gets The Girl
30. Billy Mize – Pappy Was A Clever Man
31. Jeanie O’Neal – Correspondence Course In Love

CD 6:

1. Bobby Austin – Apartment #9
2. Buck Owens – Open Up Your Heart
3. Dick Curless – A Good Job Huntin’ And Fishin’
4. Gary Paxton – Goin’ Thru The Motions
5. Red Simpson – I’m Actin’ Like My Old Self Again
6. Kay Adams – Little Pink Mack
7. Doyle Holly – The Dumb Thing
8. Merle Haggard – Someone Told My Story
9. Red Simpson – Diesel Smoke, Dangerous Curves
10. Barbara Mandrell – Queen For A Day
11. Ronnie Sessions – I Guess You’re Finally Satisfied
12. Merle Haggard – Mixed Up Mess Of A Heart
13. Joe and Rose Lee Maphis – A Lifetime Of Love
14. Del and Sue Smart – I’m So Mad At Me
15. Merle Haggard – Drink Up And Be Somebody
16. Wayne Wilson & Don Rich with The Buckaroos – You’ll Never Miss The Water (Til The Well Runs Dry)
17. Bob Morris – The First Thing I Think Of
18. Faye Hardin – Only The Strong Can Survive
19. Merle Haggard – You Don’t Have Very Far To Go
20. Bobby Austin – I’m Not Looking For An Angel
21. The Buckaroos – Chicken Pickin’
22. Doyle Holly & The Buckaroos – A Foolish Notion
23. Merle Haggard – I Made The Prison Band
24. Oscar Whittington – 50 Year Waltz
25. Del and Sue Smart – Love That Just Won’t Stop
26. The Gosdin Brothers – Hangin’ On
27. Suzi Arden – Who Do You Go To
28. Merle Haggard – Where Does The Good Times Go
29. Joe Maphis – Pickin’ And Guitin’
30. Rose Lee Maphis – Country Girl Courtship
31. Wayne Wilson – I’d Rather Be Hurt By You

CD 7:

1. Buck Owens – The Heartaches Have Just Started
2. Gene Moles – Fingerlickin’
3. Al Brumley – I’m Goin’ Crazy
4. Bill Handy with Jelly Sanders Combo – Don’t Leave Me Cryin’
5. Leo Stephens – Walking In My Sleep Crying Over You
6. Tom Rose – It’s Over
7. Buck Owens and Buddy Alan – Let The World Keep On A Turnin’
8. Merle Haggard – Too Many Bridges To Cross Over
9. Dean Sanford – Too Young To Grow Old Over You
10. Tommy Wiggins – Calling All Lovers
11. Larry Daniels & The Buckshots – Buckshot
12. Bonnie Owens – Lead Me On
13. Leon Copeland – I’m Out Of My Mind
14. Clarence White – Buckaroo
15. The Sanland Brothers – Vaccination For The Blues
16. Red Simpson – You Put My World Back Together
17. The Strangers (Merle Haggrad) – Hammin’ It Up
18. Bob Ross – Lucy Clowers
19. Ronnie Sessions – (I Used To Live) The Life Of Riley
20. Barbara Cheatwood – Married Man
21. Billy Mize – Make It Rain
22. Cliff Crofford – Mention My Name
23. Buck Owens – Sam’s Place (live in London)
24. Merle Haggard – California Cottonfields
25. Rodney Lay – Not Going Back To Jackson
26. Glenda Blackwell – I Want To Live In Your House
27. Tom Tall – Pitty Pitty Patter
28. Judy Hall – My Old Used To Be
29. Ira Allen – Love Is Me
30. Faye Hardin – Mistakes I’ve Made
31. Harold Cox & The Sooners – Pumpkin Center
32. Jerry Dallas – Tears Of Joy (Are A-Croppin’ Out On Me)
33. Stan Farlow – Devil River

CD 8:

1. Merle Haggard – Mama Tried (live in Muskogee)
2. The Strangers – Stealin’ Corn
3. Truitt Cunningham – Forgive And Forget
4. Buck Owens & Susan Raye – Cryin’ Time
5. Buck Owens – Bring Back My Peace Of Mind
6. The Sanland Brothers – Cowboy Convention
7. Don Rich & The Buckaroos – Guitar Pickin’ Man
8. Don Rich – Your Heart Turned Left (And I Was On The Right)
9. Buddy Alan (Sohn von Buck & Bonnie Owens) – A Whole Lot Of Somethin’
10. Merle Haggard – I’m A Good Loser
11. Bobby Wayne – California On My Mind
12. Buck Owens – Reno Lament
13. The Hagers – Your Tender Loving Care
14. Henry Sharpe – There Is No Easy Way
15. Lewis Talley – Because You Can’t Be Mine
16. Mike Beagles – She Don’t Care Now
17. Dave Price – Night Life Is My Weakness
18. Merle Haggard – Daddy Frank (The Guitar Man)
19. Sharon Haley – Heartbreak Mountain
20. Mayf Nutter – Never Ending Song Of Love
21. Tony Booth – Cinderella
22. Red Simpson – I’m A Truck
23. Johnny Campbell – Mr. Conscience
24. Vancie Flowers – How Dark Is My Journey
25. Merle Haggard – Bring It On Down To My House
26. Kenni Huskey – Number One Heel
27. Sonny Anglin – Today’s Tomorrow’s Yesterday
28. Merle Haggard – I’m Tired Of Your Understanding Ways
29. Kenny Vernon – I Bought The Shoes (That Just Walked Out On Me)

CD 9:

1. Buck Owens – Arms Full Of Empty
2. Susan Raye – Love Sure Feels Good In My Heart
3. Homer Joy – Streets Of Bakersfield
4. Merle Haggard – I Know An Ending When It Comes
5. Buck Owens – Something’s Wrong
6. Doyle Singer & The Buckaroos – Young Widow Brown
7. Tide Cartwright – Cheater’s Ground
8. Blackjack Duran – I Laid Back Down
9. Arlo Guthrie – This Troubled Mind Of Mine
10. Merle Haggard – The Emptiest Arms In The World
11. Kenny Johnson with the Country Mile – Beer Drinkers Of America Unite
12. Buck Owens & Susan Raye – Sweethearts In Heaven
13. Laurel Lee – Mountain Of Fortune And Fame
14. Red Simpson – Bill Woods From Bakersfield
15. Thad Tillotson – Good Ole Country Sound
16. Freddie Hart – If You Can’t Feel It (It Ain’t There)
17. Carlyle Graham – Foolish Man
18. Kay Austin – The Lord Rested On Sunday
19. Cliff Crofford – Every Time I Hear The Fiddle Play
20. Merle Haggard – Holding Things Together
21. David Frizzell – I’m The Bartender’s Best Friend
22. Lawanda Lindsey – I Ain’t Hangin’ Round
23. Toby Keeney – Going Back To Oklahoma
24. Walt Pascoe – That Little Glass Of Milk
25. Roger Spanke – Betty Jane
26. Sandy Thomas – Antique In My Closet
27. Dennis Payne – Do You Believe In Me
28. Debi Hawkins – Teach Me How To Love
29. Merle Haggard – Mirrors Don’t Lie
30. T ony Booth – A Different Kind Of Sad

CD 10:

1. Buck Owens – Y’all Come / Tall Dark Stranger (live at Toys for Tots)
2. Tony Booth – Lonesome 7-7203 (live at Toys for Tots show)
3. Buddy Alan – Fishin’ on the Mississippi (live at Toys for Tots show)
4. Susan Raye – L.A. International Airport (live at Toys for Tots)
5. Buck Owens, the Buckaoors and OMAC artists – Johnny B. Goode (live at Toys for Tots)
6. Bonnie Owens – Number One Heel (take 14)
7. Merle Haggard – If I Had Left It Up To You (take 4 with false starts)
8. Merle Haggard – If I Had Left It Up To You (false starts)
9. Vancie & Rita – Strange
10. Billy Mize – Misery
11. Billy Mize – The Name Of The Game Is Heartaches
12. Red Simpson – I’d Be A Good Time Charlie
13. Red Simpson – Fit For A King
14. Johnny Barnett – Which One Is To Blame
15. Junior Stonebarger with Jelly Sanders Band – Release Me
16. Fuzzy Owen, Bill Woods, Red Simpson & Band – My Ears Should Burn (When Fools Are Talked About)
17. Bill Woods, Don Rich, Don Markham & Band – Truck Driving Man
18. Tommy Collins – Be Serious Ann
19. Joe & Rose Lee Maphis – Christmas Time’s A Comin’
20. Lewis Talley – Blue Christmas
21. Louise Lovett – Lonely Christmas Call
22. Merle Haggard – I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus

Author: Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites.