Yoakam was born in Kentucky and raised in Ohio. After attending Ohio State University, he moved to Nashville where he planned to become a big country star. When that failed to really take off, he then moved to LA, where he became absorbed in the Bakersfield sound of Owens and Merle Haggard, among others. He cut his teeth playing everything from country to punk clubs in California. An indie EP led to a deal with Warner Brothers and the debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc, Etc.
Yoakam continued to be a media star in the music press, and had a series of country hits. In 1996, he struck cross-platinum status with a country-rock remake of Queen's "Crazy Little Thing Called Love." At the same time, he began a successful acting career that landed him several TV and film roles.
He continues to tour regularly, and in 2007 released an album dedicated to his late mentor, Buck Owens, entitled Dwight Sings Buck.