Bakersfield, Calif., has become famous for its own brand of country music, with such stars as Merle Haggard and Buck Owens given credit for putting the town on the musical map. But they evolved through a music scene that was wild and wide-open during the 1950s and '60s, and Fresh Air's Ed Ward has the story.
In 1958, Lewis suffered a precipitous decline in popularity when people learned that his new wife was not only 13, but also his cousin. Nobody would touch his records. Then, in 1963, he signed a deal with Smash and it looked like things were getting better.
Before he became the guitarist for ZZ Top, Billy Gibbons was in a band called the Moving Sidewalks that just missed its shot at stardom. The album the Moving Sidewalks never released in the late 1960s was released in late 2012 and is very much a period piece, albeit a very well-made one.
Franklin found her voice in songs such as "I Never Loved a Man" for Atlantic Records in the 1960s. Before Atlantic, however, Franklin recorded for Columbia, and in those early recordings you can hear the legend just beginning to emerge.