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The term "honky-tonk" has been applied to various styles of 20th century American music. A honky-tonk (also called a honkatonk, honkey-tonk, or tonk) is the name given to a type of bar that provides country music for entertainment to its patrons. Bars of this kind are common in the Southern and Southwestern regions of the United States, where country music is most popular. Many country music legends, such as Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, and Ernest Tubb began their careers as amateur musicians in honky-tonks.

The origin of the term honky-tonk is disputed.<ref name="ReferenceA">The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)</ref> Honky tonks were rough establishments, with music throughout the United States, that served alcoholic beverages to a working class clientele. Honky tonks sometimes also offered dancing, piano players or small bands, and were sometimes also centers of prostitution. Katrina Hazzard-Gordon writes that the honky-tonk was "the first urban manifestation of the jook", and that "the name itself became synonymous with a style of music. Honky tonk originally referred to bawdy variety shows in the West (Oklahoma and Indian Territories and Texas) and to the theaters housing them. The distinction between honky tonks, saloons and dancehalls was often blurred, especially in cowtowns,<ref name=cowtown-Merriam-Webster>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=cowtown-dictionary.com>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=cowtown-thefreedictionary.com>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=cowtown-oxforddictionaries.com>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=cowtown-wordsense.eu>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=cowtown-vocabulary.com>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> mining districts, military forts and oilfields of the West.

The first music genre to be commonly known as honky tonk music was a style of piano playing related to ragtime, but emphasizing rhythm more than melody or harmony; the style evolved in response to an environment where the pianos were often poorly cared for, tending to be out of tune and having some nonfunctioning keys. This honky tonk music was an important influence on the formation of the boogie-woogie piano style. During the pre–World War II years, the music industry began to refer to hillbilly music being played from Texas and Oklahoma to the West Coast as honky tonk music. In the 1950s, honky tonk entered its golden age, with the massive popularity of Webb Pierce, Hank Locklin, Lefty Frizzell, Faron Young, George Jones and Hank Williams.


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{{#invoke:Hatnote|hatnote}}

The term "honky-tonk" has been applied to various styles of 20th century American music. A honky-tonk (also called a honkatonk, honkey-tonk, or tonk) is the name given to a type of bar that provides country music for entertainment to its patrons. Bars of this kind are common in the Southern and Southwestern regions of the United States, where country music is most popular. Many country music legends, such as Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Patsy Cline, and Ernest Tubb began their careers as amateur musicians in honky-tonks.

The origin of the term honky-tonk is disputed.<ref name="ReferenceA">The Oxford English Dictionary (OED)</ref> Honky tonks were rough establishments, with music throughout the United States, that served alcoholic beverages to a working class clientele. Honky tonks sometimes also offered dancing, piano players or small bands, and were sometimes also centers of prostitution. Katrina Hazzard-Gordon writes that the honky-tonk was "the first urban manifestation of the jook", and that "the name itself became synonymous with a style of music. Honky tonk originally referred to bawdy variety shows in the West (Oklahoma and Indian Territories and Texas) and to the theaters housing them. The distinction between honky tonks, saloons and dancehalls was often blurred, especially in cowtowns,<ref name=cowtown-Merriam-Webster>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=cowtown-dictionary.com>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=cowtown-thefreedictionary.com>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=cowtown-oxforddictionaries.com>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=cowtown-wordsense.eu>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref><ref name=cowtown-vocabulary.com>{{#invoke:citation/CS1|citation |CitationClass=web }}</ref> mining districts, military forts and oilfields of the West.

The first music genre to be commonly known as honky tonk music was a style of piano playing related to ragtime, but emphasizing rhythm more than melody or harmony; the style evolved in response to an environment where the pianos were often poorly cared for, tending to be out of tune and having some nonfunctioning keys. This honky tonk music was an important influence on the formation of the boogie-woogie piano style. During the pre–World War II years, the music industry began to refer to hillbilly music being played from Texas and Oklahoma to the West Coast as honky tonk music. In the 1950s, honky tonk entered its golden age, with the massive popularity of Webb Pierce, Hank Locklin, Lefty Frizzell, Faron Young, George Jones and Hank Williams.


Honky-tonk sections
Intro  Etymology  History  Music  See also  References  Bibliography  

PREVIOUS: IntroNEXT: Etymology
<<>>