On This Day: Dwight Yoakam Tops the Chart With Debut Album ‘Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc.’ in 1986

by Jim Casey
(photo by Frans Schellekens/Redferns via Getty)

Dwight Yoakam reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart with his debut album, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., on June 28, 1986.

Born in Kentucky, raised in Ohio, perfected in California. That’s the ol’ Dwight Yoakam adage. In the late 1970s, Dwight did move to Nashville for a short time. However, after about a year, he headed west to California to perfect the honky-tonkin’ brand of country music he’s come to be known for. California’s progressive “cowpunk” scene turned out to be a better fit for Dwight than the “urban” sounds that were dominating Nashville at that time. Yoakam found like-minded musicians playing the Hollywood circuit, including Rank & File, The Knitters, and The Blasters.

In 1984, Dwight released his six-song debut EP, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., on a small label. The tract list included “It Won’t Hurt,” “South of Cincinnati,” “I’ll Be Gone,” “Twenty Years,” “Ring of Fire,” and “Miner’s Prayer.” Dwight penned every track, except for the Johnny Cash classic, “Ring of Fire,” which was written by June Carter and Merle Kilgore.

By 1985, the EP had caught the attention of Warner Brothers, which signed Dwight to a recording contact.

Warner Brothers re-released Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. on March 12, 1986. Dwight’s debut album featured the EP’s six songs, as well as four additional tracks: “Honky Tonk Man,” “Bury Me,” “Guitars, Cadillacs,” and “Heartaches by the Number.”

Hillbilly Music

Less than four months after its release, Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc., peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart on June 28, 1986. By January 1987, the RIAA had certified the album Gold for sales of 500,000 units. It was later certified 2X Platinum for sales of 2 million units.

The album’s lead single, “Honky Tonk Man,” reached No. 3 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart. Penned by Johnny Horton, Tillman Franks, and Howard Hausey, “Honky Tonk Man” was a Top 10 hit for Horton in 1956.

Dwight’s second single—and the album’s title track—”Guitars, Cadillacs” also cruised up the chart. Penned by Dwight, the tune reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.

A No. 1 debut album and two Top 5 singles? Dwight was on his way. And he wasn’t letting off the gas.

Dwight released his sophomore album, Hillbilly Deluxe, in 1987. He followed up with his third album, Buenas Noches From a Lonely Room, in 1988. Both albums reached No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart. In addition, Dwight found considerable success at county radio with a slew of Top 10 singles, including “Little Sister,” “Little Ways,” “Please, Please Baby,” and more. In 1988, Dwight scored his first No. 1 single with “Streets of Bakersfield,” featuring Buck Owens.

Over the course of his career, Dwight has sold more than 11.5 million units in the U.S., according to the RIAA. He earned five No. 1 albums, as well as two Grammy Awards. In addition, Dwight transitioned to the silver screen to co-star in a number of movies, including Sling Blade, Panic Room, Four Christmases, and more.