Inaugural class inducted into Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame

One year after opening, the Bakersfield Music Hall of Fame has inducted its first group of musicians.

There will be 17 people inducted this year but on Friday night, the first five were honored in a ceremony filled with music and stories from those who knew them.

Co-owner, Kyle Carter, called them the "duh" candidates, given their standing in Bakersfield and around the world: Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, Bonnie Owens, Billy Mize and Red Simpson.

All but Mize received the honor posthumously. Mize was unable to attend, but his award was accepted by his former bass player, Robert King.

Carter's wife, singer Kim McAbee was the MC of the night, sitting down with guests to talk about each of the inductees.

One of them was Portland-based musician Mario Carboni who served as a producer on Red Simpson's later albums. He performed a medley of Simpson's songs to a standing ovation.

Carter said, he was excited to finally have a place to honor Bakersfield's rich musical history but the hall wasn't just to enshrine the past. He said he wants it to become "a path for new people coming into the music business" and hopes that it will also help bring the music industry back to Bakersfield.

The inductees will each receive a life-sized cutout to be placed somewhere in the Hall. They will also be enshrined with a star in the Hall's concrete walkway. Two more shows will be held later this year featuring a tribute set for each inductee.

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