Yes, Merle Haggard has been through bad times before achieving the limelight. He faced a lot of struggles in life before becoming an ultimate star. Moreover, he has been in and out of juvenile detention center, he ran away from home, involved in a theft, fused in a robbery, has been in prison, and then a sudden struck of change hit him.
The Beginning of Merle Haggard’s Struggles…
Haggard’s family experienced a great depression 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 for a better living.
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 wherein his father died due to a brain hemorrhage. Furthermore, it profoundly affected Haggard during his childhood. His mother needs to work as a bookkeeper to back them up. Herewith, 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.
Merle Haggard Has Been Locked-Up Numerous Times…
But this has not helped Haggard at all. His father’s, the absence of his mother, and his loneliness have overwhelmed him, making him a rebellious child. In connection, he was put to juvenile detention by his mother to change his attitude, but it worsened. Merle Haggard has been in and out of juvenile detention center in his teenage life.
Haggard committed some offenses, such as thefts and writing bad checks. In 1950, he was sent back to a juvenile detention center for shoplifting. At the age of 14, he ran away from home to Texas with his friend. He rode freight trains and hitchhiked throughout the United States.
When Haggard and his friend returned, they were arrested for robbery. They were released when law enforcement officers had found out the real robbers. Then again, they had put to a juvenile detention center, and they escaped. In 1951, he was arrested for truancy and petty theft.
Still, with all of the bad things happening to Haggard, he tried to work as a potato truck driver, being a short order cook, a hay pitcher, and an oil well shooter. Then he got married.
Plagued by financial issues, he was arrested in 1957 shortly after he tried to rob a Bakersfield roadhouse. He was sent to Bakersfield Jail and after an escape attempt was transferred to San Quentin Prison on February 21, 1958.
Merle Haggard’s Sudden Struck Of Change…
While in prison, Haggard learned that his wife was expecting another man’s child, which pressed him psychologically. He was fired from a series of prison jobs, and planned to escape along with another inmate named “Rabbit”, but was convinced not to escape by fellow inmates.
Haggard started gambling and brewing racket with his cellmate. After he was caught drunk, he was sent for a week to solitary confinement where he met Caryl Chessman, an author, and a death-row inmate. Meanwhile, his inmate named James “Rabbit” Kendrick has managed to escape by shooting a police officer. With this, his friend was returned to jail and was executed.
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. 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.
The Rise Of Merle Haggard…
It was not a smooth beginning for Haggard’s musical career. His very first record with Tally Records entitled “Singing My Heart Out” was a whole flat. Despite Haggard’s wanting to pursue his career, he kept chasing his dreams.
He asked for a consent to record “Sing A Sad Song” which was, astonishingly, became a huge hit in 1964. The following year, he recorded “My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers” written by Liz Anderson, the mother of country singer Lynn Anderson. This made Haggard’s career skyrocket.
In 1966, Merle Haggard recorded “I’m A Lonesome Fugitive” also written by Liz Anderson and Casey Anderson. The song was his very first No.1 single on the country charts.
At that time where his career was skyrocketing, there was one thing that was bothering Haggard. It was his pasts, the things he had done. He was worried that it would affect his career. But God is great, and it didn’t; instead, he was loved by millions of people all over the globe. His love petrified his evil deeds to music and country music enthusiasts.
People were just so passionate about Merle Haggard. They forgot what was in the past and embraced what Merle Haggard has to offer. Above all, Merle Haggard is still in our hearts no matter what happens.
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