Merle Haggard long time country singer icon passes away at the age of 79.
During his career he had 38 number one hits and it’s hard edge country and rock ‘n roll style came to be known as one of the best according to people like Willie Nelson.
Some of his best songs were depression era poverty described in hungry eyes, the prison diaries, Sing me back home and Mama tried. There are also others like to stay here and drink and back to the bar rooms, the songs were all taken from chapters in his own life.
He was born April 6, 1937 in the Central Valley of California just a couple years after his family moved to the West Coast from Oklahoma. His father found work on the railroad playing fiddle and bought the family a boxcar house for about $500. He had lost his father a young age.
A couple years later Haggard’s mom had turned him into authorities for being incorrigible, spent his teens in and out of reform schools, and by his own admission he was locked up more than a dozen times during those years.
Haggard went to see country star lefty Frizzell perform in Bakersfield at the age of 14, he stuck back stage and sang one of Frizzell song for the performer who pulled Haggard on stage, at that point he stated he was hooked on performing.
In 1957 Haggard and a friend attempted to rob a diner was sentenced to five years in San Quentin prison. In 1958 Johnny Cash had visited San Quentin to play a concert, stating he was very impressed with her demeanor and arrogance of cash. He said that was a large influence in turning his life around.
After being released he returned home and started running the club circuit in Bakersfield, along with Buck Owens he became one of the key architects of the hard Bakersfield sound. During that time also he met George Jones who revealed that Haggard is one of his favorite country singers. Shortly thereafter he had his first national hit “sing a sad song” which led to a deal with Capitol records and several number one hits the next following years.
Best known probably for his song “Okie from Muskogee” and have produced over 30 albums during his career.
As recently of January this year during an interview he stated he was writing and recording in preparing to go to the studio to do some follow-ups with Willie Nelson and a possible tour.