It has been two years since the country music world lost the legendary Merle Haggard. He died on April 6, 2016, on his 79th birthday due to complications of double pneumonia. And this day is his 2nd death anniversary. He is one of the icons worth remembering.
He was in the midst of his concert tour when he was hospitalized in March 2016. Due to this, he had to cancel several concert dates. Like the lifelong trouper that he was, Haggard hoped to resume his tour at some point. And that was Merle to the very end, not wanting to let his fans down, the ordinary folks of America.
Today, let’s remember the one and only Merle Haggard through some of his successful hits and the things you might not know, or you already know.
‘Bout Merle Haggard…
Haggard’s family experienced a tragedy in 1934, and this was because their family’s barn was burned. With this, they have lost a tremendous amount of money wherein they needed to start all over again. They moved to California with a hope for a better life.
Then, Merle Ronald Haggard was born on April 6, 1937. At this time, their lives have changed. Haggard was a lucky charm to his family. This is where his father began having a good job. They have had enough hardships, but they managed to regain a good life once again when his father worked hard.
But as he was growing up, he has seen the evil side of the world.
Haggard has experienced a devastating event when his father died due to a brain hemorrhage. This profoundly affected Haggard during his childhood. Also, his mother needed to work as a bookkeeper to back them up so his mother lacked time and support for her children. With this, it changed Haggard emotionally and physically.
While in the state of loneliness, Merle Haggard learned guitar as his escape goat. He learned to play by himself through the help of his record collections of Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell, and Hank Williams.
10 Things ‘Bout Merle Haggard You Might Not Know…
1. He was cheated.
Haggard learned that his wife was expecting another man’s child, which pressed him psychologically.
2. Merle Haggard struck of change
Haggard was in and out of juvenile. He met James “Rabbit” Kendrick. “Rabbit” was executed due to escaping and shooting a police officer.
Chessman’s predicament, along with the execution of “Rabbit,” inspired Haggard to change his life. He soon earned a high school equivalency diploma and kept a steady job in the prison’s textile plant. Moreover, Haggard also played for the prison’s country music band, attributing a performance by Johnny Cash at the jail on New Year’s Day of 1959 as his main inspiration. And he was released from San Quentin on parole in 1960.
3. Haggard was married five times
He was married five times, first to Leona Hobbs, then Bonnie Owens, Leona Williams, Debbie Parret, and Theresa Ann Lane.
4. Born in a train boxcar
Merle was born in a train boxcar in 1937. The tiny boxcar was transferred from Oildale, California, in 2015 to the Kern County Museum.
4. Fascination with the word “Strangers”
Merle has a fascination with the word “strangers.” It’s appeared in his first Top 10 hit “(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers” and “We’re Strangers Again,” his duet with Leona Williams. “Strangers” is also the title of his debut album. Also, Merle’s background band is “The Strangers.”
6. Dolly Parton wrote a song
Merle wrote most of his songs, but not all of them. His 1975 No. 1 single, “Kentucky Gambler,” was written by the one and only Dolly Parton.
7. Merle’s duet led to Jewel
Merle’s duet partners have included everyone from Willie Nelson and George Jones to Jewel, Janie Fricke and even the iconic actor/director Clint Eastwood, who teamed with Merle on the 1980 No. 1, “Bar Room Buddies.” Merle’s best-loved collaboration remains the 1983 No. 1 with Willie, “Pancho and Lefty.”
8. Cover of Time Magazine
One of his most famous appearances was on the cover of the May 6, 1974, issue of Time magazine. In addition, Merle served as the representative of the cover story titled, “Country Music: Songs of Love, Loyalty & Doubt.”
9. Acting career
Merle made his acting debut in 1968 in Killers Three, a Western drama written by Dick Clark. Merle played a sheriff in the movie and sang his No. 1 smash, “Mama Tried.”
10. The Fugitive
Merle’s first career No. 1 single, “The Fugitive,” in 1967 was written by Liz Anderson and her husband Casey Anderson, the parents of country star Lynn Anderson.
Here is a live Merle Haggard singing “Sing Me Back Home”.
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