Billy pioneered a musical revolution that became known as The Bakersfield Sound, which enjoyed enormous popularity in the sixties, and is most akin to what happened in Seattle during the 90s with bands like Nirvana & Pearl Jam. The Bakersfield movement produced talents such as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, and influenced such bands as the Beatles, Stones, the Grateful Dead, and modern day artists like Brad Paisley.
During the height of Bakersfield’s popularity, Nashville snubbed their loud, electric twang. Nashville Country attempted to distance itself from rock ‘n’ roll artists, like Elvis Presley, and move to a smoother, acoustic sound. This resulted in a lack of recognition for the raw, West Coast country artists. Billy Mize and others created the Academy of Country Western Music Awards to bring notoriety to the western part of the country. Dick Clark became involved and the award show was a hit. The organization was eventually renamed the Academy of Country Music and continues to spotlight significant country musicians today.
While this documentary follows Billy’s Mize’s personal story, it also defines and explains the Bakersfield Sound. Through Billy we can see the impact Bakersfield made on our culture: from influencing Elvis’ style to the diverse group of artists who recorded Billy’s music, including Waylon Jennings, Jerry Lee Lewis, Dean Martin, Glen Campbell, Barbara Mandrell and many more.
On March 21st 2012, the Country Music Hall of Fame opened a 2-year Bakersfield Sound Exhibit, honoring Billy Mize among others. Hopefully this is the first of many steps to honor these radical, unique musicians.