Country Musician, Songwriter. One of the most popular country music performers of the late 20th Century, he had more than three dozen number one country hits in a musical career that spanned six decades, from the 1960s into the 2010s. Poverty marred his childhood and he began a career of theft and burglary in his teenage years. After his release from San Quentin Prison in California in 1960, he turned to music in Bakersfield, which was becoming an important regional country music center. He began recording in the early 1960s and in 1965, started producing hit recordings regularly for the Capitol label. There was a somber cast to many of the songs he wrote, including “Mama Tried,” “The Bottle Let Me Down,” and “If We Make It Through December" that reflected his difficult youth. He also wrote “Okie From Muskogee” (1969), his best-known recording, a novelty song that was controversial for its apparent attack on hippies. His music ranged from early jazz and country songs to contemporary tunes, and he often recorded the songs of other writers, including western-swing bandleader Bob Wills, one of his inspirations, whom he honored with the album "A Tribute to the Best Damned Fiddle Player in the World" in 1970. A multi-instrumentalist himself, He was known for the high quality and versatility of his accompanying bands, which by the 1970s included some of Wills’s former sidemen. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994 and three years later, inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. In 2010 he was honored with an award for lifetime achievement from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington D.C.
Bio by: Mr. Badger Hawkeye