Friends and fans remember Tommy Hays as a gentleman and a gentle man. But he had a mischievous side, too, and a gleam in his eye that made you think he knew something that you didn't. And he probably did.

A working guitarist, band leader and vocalist since his arrival in Bakersfield in 1947, Hays would become a living link between the western music of the late-1940s and the electrified country and honky-tonk sounds of the 1950s and ’60s that would give rise to what we now know as the Bakersfield Sound.

Reporter Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.