Wynn Stewart is seen by many as the originator of the Bakersfield Sound. Over a thirty-year career, Stewart took twenty songs into the country charts, but he never had the kind of smash hit that made him a superstar. Stewart found his sound by stripping the music down to its raw elements: fiddle, steel guitar, electric guitar and piano combined with a strong 4/4 beat. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard adopted this formula with much success -- in fact, Haggard got his start playing bass for Stewart in the early 1960s. When Stewart's career began in earnest in the late '50s, he had Ralph Mooney on steel guitar and Roy Nichols on electric guitar. Both went on to become the foundation of Merle Haggard's band the Strangers. Stewart was getting ready for a comeback attempt when he died unexpectedly of a heart attack at the age of 51 in 1985. His influence can still be heard today, most notably in the music of Dwight Yoakam and Alan Jackson.