Red Simpson historical plaque unveiled in Oildale

Hundreds gathered Monday in Oildale at the Rasmussen Senior Center to celebrate the late singer and songwriter, Joe "Red" Simpson. The nonprofit organization Citizens Preserving History spearheaded an effort to create and install a commemorative plaque in his honor at the senior center.

A man Bob Dylan once referred to as the "forgotten man of the Bakersfield Sound," Simpson wrote songs for Merle Haggard and Buck Owens, among other artists. He sang a lot of his own material as well.

Simpson's family moved to Bakersfield in 1939. The young Simpson took an early interest in music.

"Red's first love -- even as a kid, Bill once said -- seemed to be writing songs," said Dianne Sharmin, the vice president of Citizens Preserving History. "We all know he continued that throughout his life."

Bakersfield was a frequent theme of Simpson's music, endearing him to more than one generation of local fans.

"No place takes the place of this place for me," he wrote.

Simpson died in January of last year. He's survived by his wife and children, many of whom attended Monday's ceremony.

"It's stunning," said Dawna Simpson, Red Simpson's daughter-in-law. "It is so beautiful."

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