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Merle Haggard

Merle Haggard

Overview
Merle Ronald Haggard is an American country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 singer, guitarist, fiddler
Fiddler
A fiddler is a person who plays a fiddle or violin.Fiddler may also refer to:*Fabrangen Fiddlers, an American musical group founded in 1971*Tupolev Tu-28 "Fiddler", a fighter aircraft*Fiddler , a DC Comics villain...

, instrumentalist, and songwriter. Along with Buck Owens
Buck Owens
Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr. , better known as Buck Owens, was an American singer and guitarist who had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts with his band, the Buckaroos...

, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound
Bakersfield sound
The Bakersfield sound was a genre of country music developed in the mid- to late 1950s in and around Bakersfield, California. The many hit singles were largely produced by Capitol Records country music head, Ken Nelson. Bakersfield country was a reaction against the slickly produced, string...

, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster
Fender Telecaster
The Fender Telecaster, colloquially known as the Tele , is typically a dual-pickup, solid-body electric guitar made by Fender.Its simple yet effective design and revolutionary sound broke ground and set trends in electric guitar manufacturing and popular music...

 guitars, vocal harmonies, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville Sound
Nashville sound
The Nashville sound originated during the late 1950s as a sub-genre of American country music, replacing the chart dominance of honky tonk music which was most popular in the 1940s and 1950s...

 recordings of the same era.

By the 1970s, Haggard was aligned with the growing outlaw country
Outlaw country
Outlaw country is a subgenre of country music, most popular during the late 1960s and the 1970s , sometimes referred to as the outlaw movement or simply outlaw music...

 movement, and has continued to release successful albums through the 1990s and into the 2000s.
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Encyclopedia
Merle Ronald Haggard is an American country music
Country music
Country music is a popular American musical style that began in the rural Southern United States in the 1920s. It takes its roots from Western cowboy and folk music...

 singer, guitarist, fiddler
Fiddler
A fiddler is a person who plays a fiddle or violin.Fiddler may also refer to:*Fabrangen Fiddlers, an American musical group founded in 1971*Tupolev Tu-28 "Fiddler", a fighter aircraft*Fiddler , a DC Comics villain...

, instrumentalist, and songwriter. Along with Buck Owens
Buck Owens
Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr. , better known as Buck Owens, was an American singer and guitarist who had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts with his band, the Buckaroos...

, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound
Bakersfield sound
The Bakersfield sound was a genre of country music developed in the mid- to late 1950s in and around Bakersfield, California. The many hit singles were largely produced by Capitol Records country music head, Ken Nelson. Bakersfield country was a reaction against the slickly produced, string...

, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster
Fender Telecaster
The Fender Telecaster, colloquially known as the Tele , is typically a dual-pickup, solid-body electric guitar made by Fender.Its simple yet effective design and revolutionary sound broke ground and set trends in electric guitar manufacturing and popular music...

 guitars, vocal harmonies, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville Sound
Nashville sound
The Nashville sound originated during the late 1950s as a sub-genre of American country music, replacing the chart dominance of honky tonk music which was most popular in the 1940s and 1950s...

 recordings of the same era.

By the 1970s, Haggard was aligned with the growing outlaw country
Outlaw country
Outlaw country is a subgenre of country music, most popular during the late 1960s and the 1970s , sometimes referred to as the outlaw movement or simply outlaw music...

 movement, and has continued to release successful albums through the 1990s and into the 2000s. In 1997, Merle Haggard was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame
Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame
The Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, located in Muskogee, Oklahoma, honors Oklahoma musicians for their lifetime achievements in music. The induction ceremony and concert is held each year in Muskogee...

 for his song "Okie from Muskogee
Okie from Muskogee (song)
"Okie from Muskogee" is an American country music song performed by its co-writer, Merle Haggard. Released in September 1969, the song became one of the most famous of his career.-Background:...

".

Early life


Merle Haggard was born in Oildale, California
Oildale, California
Oildale is a census-designated place in Kern County, California, United States. Oildale is located north-northwest of downtown Bakersfield, at an elevation of 469 feet . The population was 32,684 at the 2010 census, up from 27,885 at the 2000 census...

, in 1937. His parents, Flossie Mae Harp and James Francis Haggard, moved from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression
Great Depression
The Great Depression was a severe worldwide economic depression in the decade preceding World War II. The timing of the Great Depression varied across nations, but in most countries it started in about 1929 and lasted until the late 1930s or early 1940s...

. At that time, much of the population of Bakersfield consisted of migrant worker
Migrant worker
The term migrant worker has different official meanings and connotations in different parts of the world. The United Nations' definition is broad, including any people working outside of their home country...

s from Oklahoma and surrounding states. Haggard spent his childhood in Oildale, a hardscrabble suburb of Bakersfield, home to many workers in the adjacent Kern River Oil Field
Kern River Oil Field
The Kern River Oil Field is a large oil field in Kern County in the San Joaquin Valley of California, north-northeast of Bakersfield in the lower Sierra foothills...

.

Haggard's father died when Merle was nine years old, and Merle soon began to rebel by committing petty crimes and truancy
Truancy
Truancy is any intentional unauthorized absence from compulsory schooling. The term typically describes absences caused by students of their own free will, and usually does not refer to legitimate "excused" absences, such as ones related to medical conditions...

. Due to shoplifting at a women's lingerie store in 1950 (aged thirteen), he was sent to a juvenile detention center. In 1951, Haggard ran away to Texas with a friend, but returned that same year and was arrested for truancy and petty larceny. Again escaping the juvenile detention center, he went to Modesto, California
Modesto, California
Modesto is a city in, and is the county seat of, Stanislaus County, California. With a population of approximately 201,165 at the 2010 census, Modesto ranks as the 18th largest city in the state of California....

. He worked odd jobs—legal and not—and began performing in a bar. Once he was found again, he was sent to the Preston School of Industry
Preston School of Industry
The Preston School of Industry, also known as Preston Castle, is one of the oldest and best-known reform schools in the United States. It is located in Ione, California, in Amador County....

, a high-security installation. He was released fifteen months later, but was sent back after beating a local boy during a burglary attempt.

After his fourth release, Haggard saw Lefty Frizzell
Lefty Frizzell
Lefty Frizzell , born William Orville Frizzell, was an American country music singer and songwriter of the 1950s, and a proponent of honky tonk music. His relaxed style of singing was an influence on later stars Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, George Jones and John Fogerty...

 in concert with his friend, Bob Teague. After hearing Haggard sing along to his first two songs Frizzell allowed Haggard to sing at the concert. The audience enjoyed Haggard and he began working on a full-time music career. After he had earned a local reputation, Haggard's money problems caught up with him. He was arrested for attempting to rob a Bakersfield tavern in 1957 and was sent to the San Quentin state prison for three years.

While in prison, Haggard ran a gambling and brewing racket from his cell. During a time of solitary confinement, he encountered an alcoholic mathematician and death row inmate named Drunk Adam. Haggard had the opportunity to escape with a fellow inmate nicknamed "Rabbit" but passed on it. The inmate successfully escaped, only to shoot a police officer and return to San Quentin for execution. Drunk Adam's predicament along with Rabbit's inspired Haggard to turn his life around.

Haggard soon earned a high-school equivalence diploma, kept a steady job in the prison's textile plant, and played in the prison's band. Upon his release in 1960, Haggard said it took about four months to get used to being out of the penitentiary and that, at times, he actually wanted to go back in. He said it was the loneliest feeling he had ever had. On Tuesday, March 14, 1972, Haggard was pardoned by Governor Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

.

Country success



Upon his release, Haggard started digging ditches and wiring houses for his brother. Soon he was performing again, and later began recording with Tally Records. The Bakersfield Sound was developing in the area as a reaction against the over-produced honky tonk
Honky tonk
A honky-tonk is a type of bar that provides musical entertainment to its patrons...

 of the Nashville Sound
Nashville sound
The Nashville sound originated during the late 1950s as a sub-genre of American country music, replacing the chart dominance of honky tonk music which was most popular in the 1940s and 1950s...

. Haggard's first song was "Skid Row". In 1962, Haggard wound up performing at a Wynn Stewart
Wynn Stewart
Winford Lindsey Stewart , better known as Wynn Stewart, was an American country music performer. He was one of the progenitors of the Bakersfield sound...

 show in Las Vegas
Las Vegas metropolitan area
The Las Vegas Valley is the heart of the Las Vegas-Paradise, NV MSA also known as the Las Vegas–Paradise–Henderson MSA which includes all of Clark County, Nevada, and is a metropolitan area in the southern part of the U.S. state of Nevada. The Valley is defined by the Las Vegas Valley landform, a ...

 and heard Wynn's "Sing a Sad Song". He asked for permission to record it, and the resulting single was a national hit in 1964. The following year he had his first national top ten record with "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers
(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers
Strangers is the title of a song written by Liz Anderson. Best remembered as American country music artist Merle Haggard's first national top ten record, it was also a top ten song concurrently for Roy Drusky. The song is also known as All My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers, All My Friends Are...

", written by Liz Anderson
Liz Anderson
Liz Anderson was anAmerican country music singer/songwriter who was one of a wave of a new generation of female vocalists in the genre during the 1960's to write and record her own songs on a regular basis. Writing in The New York Times Bill Friskics-Warren noted, "Like her contemporary Loretta...

 (mother of country singer Lynn Anderson) and his career was off and running. 1966 saw his first number one song "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive
I'm a Lonesome Fugitive
I'm a Lonesome Fugitive is an album by American country singer Merle Haggard, released in 1967. "Life in Prison"-Reissues:* In 1996, I'm a Lonesome Fugitive was reissued by BGO along with Mama Tried.-Track listing:...

", also written by Liz Anderson, which Haggard acknowledges in his autobiography remains his most popular number with audiences.

In 1968, Haggard's first tribute LP Same Train, Different Time: A Tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, was released to acclaim. "Okie From Muskogee
Okie from Muskogee (song)
"Okie from Muskogee" is an American country music song performed by its co-writer, Merle Haggard. Released in September 1969, the song became one of the most famous of his career.-Background:...

", 1969's apparent political statement, was actually written as an abjectly humorous character portrait. Haggard called the song a "documentation of the uneducated that lived in America at the time." He said later on the Bob Edwards Show that "I wrote it when I recently got out of the joint. I knew what it was like to lose my freedom, and I was getting really mad at these protesters. They didn't know anything more about the war in Vietnam than I did. I thought how my dad, who was from Oklahoma, would have felt. I felt I knew how those boys fighting in Vietnam felt."

Later, Alabama Gov. George Wallace
George Wallace
George Corley Wallace, Jr. was the 45th Governor of Alabama, serving four terms: 1963–1967, 1971–1979 and 1983–1987. "The most influential loser" in 20th-century U.S. politics, according to biographers Dan T. Carter and Stephan Lesher, he ran for U.S...

 asked Haggard for an endorsement, which Haggard declined. However, Haggard has expressed sympathy with the "parochial" way of life expressed in "Okie" and songs such as "The Fightin' Side of Me
The Fightin' Side of Me
"The Fightin' Side of Me" is an American country music song performed by its writer, Merle Haggard. Released in 1970 as the follow-up to "Okie from Muskogee", the song became one of the most famous of his career....

". After "Okie" was released, it was a hit.

Regardless of exactly how they were intended, "Okie From Muskogee", "The Fightin' Side of Me", and "I Wonder If They Think of Me" were hailed as anthems of the so-called "Silent Majority" and presaged a trend in patriotic songs that would reappear years later with Charlie Daniels
Charlie Daniels
Charles Edward "Charlie" Daniels is an American musician known for his contributions to country and southern rock music. He is known primarily for his number one country hit "The Devil Went Down to Georgia", and multiple other songs he has performed and written. Daniels has been active as a singer...

' "In America", Lee Greenwood
Lee Greenwood
Melvin Lee Greenwood is an American country music artist. Active since the early 1980s, he has released more than twenty major-label albums and has charted more than 35 singles on the Billboard country music charts....

's "God Bless the USA
God Bless the USA
"God Bless the USA" is an American patriotic song written and recorded by country musician Lee Greenwood. The first Greenwood album it appears on is 1984's You've Got a Good Love Comin'. It reached No...

", and others. In 1969 the Grateful Dead
Grateful Dead
The Grateful Dead was an American rock band formed in 1965 in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band was known for its unique and eclectic style, which fused elements of rock, folk, bluegrass, blues, reggae, country, improvisational jazz, psychedelia, and space rock, and for live performances of long...

 began performing Haggard's tune "Mama Tried
Mama Tried (song)
"Mama Tried" is an American country music song written and recorded by Merle Haggard. Released in July 1968, the song became one of the cornerstone songs of his career...

", which appeared on their 1971 eponymous live album
Grateful Dead (album)
Grateful Dead is the seventh album by the Grateful Dead, released in October 1971 on Warner Bros. Records, catalogue 2WS-1935. It is their second live double album, and also known generally by the names Skull and Roses and Skull Fuck Grateful Dead is the seventh album by the Grateful Dead,...

. The song became a staple in their repertoire until the band's end in 1995. The Grateful Dead also performed Haggard's "Sing Me Back Home" numerous times between 1971 and 1973. In addition, the Flying Burrito Brothers recorded and performed "White Line Fever" in 1971, and toured with "Sing Me Back Home". Singer-activist Joan Baez
Joan Baez
Joan Chandos Baez is an American folk singer, songwriter, musician and a prominent activist in the fields of human rights, peace and environmental justice....

, whose political leanings couldn't be more different from those expressed in Haggard's above-referenced songs, nonetheless covered "Sing Me Back Home" and "Mama Tried" in 1969. The Everly Brothers also used both songs in their 1968 country-rock album Roots
Roots (Everly Brothers album)
Roots is a 1968 album by close harmony rock and roll duo The Everly Brothers. Originally on the Warner Bros. label, the album was re-released on CD in 1995 by Warner Bros. and in 2005 by Collectors' Choice Music...

. Haggard's next LP was A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (or, My Salute to Bob Wills), which helped spark a permanent revival and expanded audience for western swing
Western swing
Western swing music is a subgenre of American country music that originated in the late 1920s in the West and South among the region's Western string bands...

.

On Tuesday, March 14, 1972, shortly after "Carolyn
Carolyn (song)
"Carolyn" is a 1971 single written by Tommy Collins and recorded by Merle Haggard. "Carolyn" was Haggard's eleventh number one on the U.S. country singles chart. The single stayed at number one for three weeks and spent a total of fifteen weeks on the chart....

" became another number one country hit for Haggard, Governor Ronald Reagan granted Haggard a full pardon for his past crimes.

During the early to mid 1970s, Haggard's chart domination continued with songs like "Someday We'll Look Back", "Carolyn", "Grandma Harp
Grandma Harp
"Grandma Harp is a 1972 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. "Grandma Harp" would be Merle Haggard's 12th No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in May 1972, staying atop the chart for two weeks, and spending a total 14 weeks in the top 40.-Content:The song is a reflection of a...

", "Always Wanting You
Always Wanting You
"Always Wanting You" is a 1975 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. It was Haggard's twentieth number-one single on the U.S. country chart. It stayed at number one for two weeks and spent a total of ten weeks on the chart. In 2004, "Always Wanting You" was featured on the radio station...

", and "The Roots of My Raising
The Roots of My Raising
The Roots of My Raising is an album by American country singer Merle Haggard, released in 1976. It was his third release in 1976 and his last on the Capitol label until his return in 2004...

". He also wrote and performed the theme song to the television series Movin' On
Movin' On (TV series)
Movin' On is an American drama series that ran for two seasons , between 1974 and 1976. It originally appeared on the NBC television network...

, which in 1975 gave him another number one country hit. The 1973 recession
Recession
In economics, a recession is a business cycle contraction, a general slowdown in economic activity. During recessions, many macroeconomic indicators vary in a similar way...

 anthem "If We Make It Through December
If We Make It Through December
"If We Make It Through December" is the title of a song written and recorded by American country music singer Merle Haggard. It was released in October 1973 as the lead single from album, of the same name. The song was included on Haggard's Christmas album released that year...

" furthered Haggard's status as a champion of the working class. Haggard appeared on the cover of TIME on May 6, 1974.

In 1981, Haggard published an autobiography, Sing Me Back Home. That same year, he alternately spoke and sang the ballad The Man In the Mask. Written by Dean Pitchford
Dean Pitchford
Dean Pitchford is an American songwriter, screenwriter, director, actor, and novelist. His work has earned him an Oscar and a Golden Globe Award, as well as nominations for three additional Oscars, two more Golden Globes, seven Grammy Awards and two Tony Awards.-Early life:Pitchford was born in...

 (whose other output includes Fame
Fame (Irene Cara song)
"Fame" is a pop song, written by Michael Gore and Dean Pitchford that was released in 1980, and achieved chart success as the theme song to the Fame film and TV series. The song was performed by Irene Cara, who played the role of Coco Hernandez in the original movie...

,
Footloose
Footloose (song)
"Footloose" is the title of a song co-written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Kenny Loggins. It was released in January 1984 as the first of two single by Loggins from the 1984 film of the same name. The song spent three weeks at number one, March 31—April 14, 1984 on the U.S. Billboard...

,
Sing
Sing (1989 film)
Sing is a 1989 film, starring Lorraine Bracco, Peter Dobson and Jessica Steen. The movie is about a fictional New York City SING! production...

,
Solid Gold
Solid Gold (TV series)
Solid Gold is an American syndicated music television series that debuted on September 13, 1980. Like many other shows of its genre, such as American Bandstand, Solid Gold featured musical performances and various other elements such as music videos...

and the musical Carrie
Carrie (musical)
Carrie: The Musical is a musical with a book by Lawrence D. Cohen, lyrics by Dean Pitchford, and music by Michael Gore. Adapted from Stephen King's novel Carrie, it focuses on an awkward teenage girl with telekinetic powers whose lonely life is dominated by an oppressive religious fanatic mother...

), this was the combined narration/theme from the movie The Legend of the Lone Ranger
The Legend of the Lone Ranger
The Legend of the Lone Ranger is a 1981 British-American western film directed by William A. Fraker and starring Klinton Spilsbury, Michael Horse and Christopher Lloyd....

...which was a box-office flop.

Country star Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...

 believed the 1983 Academy Award-winning film Tender Mercies
Tender Mercies
Tender Mercies is a 1983 American drama film directed by Bruce Beresford. The screenplay by Horton Foote focuses on Mac Sledge, a recovering alcoholic country music singer who seeks to turn his life around through his relationship with a young widow and her son in rural Texas...

, about the life of fictional singer Mac Sledge, was based on the life of Merle Haggard. Actor Robert Duvall
Robert Duvall
Robert Selden Duvall is an American actor and director. He has won an Academy Award, two Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards and a BAFTA over the course of his career....

 and other filmmakers denied this and claimed the character was based on nobody in particular. Duvall, however, said he was a big fan of Haggard.

"If We Make It Through December" turned out to be Haggard's last pop hit. Although he won a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance
Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance
The Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance was awarded between 1965 and 2011. The award has had several minor name changes:*From 1965 to 1967 the award was known as Best Country & Western Vocal Performance - Male...

 for 1984's new kind of honky tonk, newer singers had begun to take over country music, and singers like George Strait
George Strait
George Harvey Strait is an American country music singer, actor, and music producer. Strait is referred to as the "King of Country," and critics call Strait a living legend. He is known for his unique style of western swing music, bar-room ballads, honky-tonk style, and fresh yet traditional...

 and Randy Travis
Randy Travis
Randy Travis is an American country music singer and actor. Since 1985, he has recorded 20 studio albums and charted more than 30 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, 22 of which were number one hits...

 had taken over the charts. Haggard's last number one hit was "Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star
Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star
"Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star" is a 1987 single by Merle Haggard, who co-wrote the song with Freddy Powers. "Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star" was the last of Merle Haggard's thirty-four number one singles as a solo artist. The single went to number one for one week and spent fifteen weeks on the...

" from his smash album Chill Factor in 1988.

Influence


Haggard's guitar playing and voice gives his country a hard-edged, blues-like style in many cuts.
Although he has been outspoken in his dislike for modern country music, he has praised newer stars such as George Strait
George Strait
George Harvey Strait is an American country music singer, actor, and music producer. Strait is referred to as the "King of Country," and critics call Strait a living legend. He is known for his unique style of western swing music, bar-room ballads, honky-tonk style, and fresh yet traditional...

, Jack Royerton, Toby Keith
Toby Keith
Toby Keith Covel , best known as Toby Keith, is an American country music singer-songwriter, record producer and actor. Keith released his first four studio albums — 1993's Toby Keith, 1994's Boomtown, 1996's Blue Moon and 1997's Dream Walkin, plus a Greatest Hits package for various divisions of...

 and Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson
Alan Eugene Jackson is an American country music singer, known for blending traditional honky tonk and mainstream country sounds and penning many of his own hits. He has recorded 13 studio albums, 3 Greatest Hits albums, 2 Holiday albums, 1 Gospel album and several compilations, all on the Arista...

. Keith has singled Haggard as a major influence on his career. Nick Gravenites
Nick Gravenites
Nicholas George Gravenites , with stage names like Nick "The Greek" Gravenites and Gravy, is a blues, rock and folk singer–songwriter, and is best known for his work with Janis Joplin, Mike Bloomfield and several influential bands and names of the generation springing from the 1960s and 1970s...

, of Big Brother and the Holding Company
Big Brother and the Holding Company
Big Brother and the Holding Company is an American rock band that formed in San Francisco in 1965 as part of the same psychedelic music scene that produced the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service and Jefferson Airplane. They are best known as the band that featured Janis Joplin as their...

, paid Haggard a tongue-in-cheek tribute with the song, "I'll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle," later covered by other artists including Pure Prairie League
Pure Prairie League
Pure Prairie League, sometimes abbreviated PPL, is an American country-rock band whose roots began between 1964 and 1969 in Waverly, Ohio with Craig Fuller, George Powell, Tom McGrail, Jim Caughlan and John David Call. In 1970 McGrail named the band after a 19th century temperance union mentioned...

 and The Grateful Dead. The Dixie Chicks paid tribute by recording Darrell Scott
Darrell Scott
James Darrell Scott known as Darrell Scott , the son of musician Wayne Scott with whom he has collaborated, is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He moved as a child to East Gary, Indiana. He was playing professionally by his teens in Southern California, later living in...

's song "Long Time Gone", which criticizes Nashville trends: "We listen to the radio to hear what's cookin’/But the music ain't got no soul/ Now they sound tired but they don’t sound Haggard," with the following lines mentioning Johnny Cash
Johnny Cash
John R. "Johnny" Cash was an American singer-songwriter, actor, and author, who has been called one of the most influential musicians of the 20th century...

 and Hank Williams in the same vein. Collin Raye
Collin Raye
Floyd Collin Wray Floyd Collin Wray Floyd Collin Wray (born August 22, 1959 or 1960,Although multiple online sources all indicate Raye's date of birth as 1959, Raye's MySpace lists his date of birth as 1960. Furthermore, the 2004 Deseret News article cited in this article indicates the singer as...

 paid him tribute with the song "My Kind Of Girl," when he sang the lines "How 'bout some music/She said have you got any Merle/That's when I knew she was my kind of girl." In 2000, Alan Jackson
Alan Jackson
Alan Eugene Jackson is an American country music singer, known for blending traditional honky tonk and mainstream country sounds and penning many of his own hits. He has recorded 13 studio albums, 3 Greatest Hits albums, 2 Holiday albums, 1 Gospel album and several compilations, all on the Arista...

 and George Strait
George Strait
George Harvey Strait is an American country music singer, actor, and music producer. Strait is referred to as the "King of Country," and critics call Strait a living legend. He is known for his unique style of western swing music, bar-room ballads, honky-tonk style, and fresh yet traditional...

 sang "Murder On Music Row," which criticizes mainstream country trends: "The Hag wouldn't have a chance on today's radio/Because they committed murder down on music row." In 2005, the country rock duo Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn
Brooks & Dunn was an American country music duo consisting of Kix Brooks and Ronnie Dunn, who were both vocalists and songwriters. They were paired by record producer Tim DuBois in 1990. Before the duo's foundation, both members of the duo were solo recording artists...

 sang "Just Another Neon Night" off their Hillbilly Deluxe album. In the song Ronnie Dunn
Ronnie Dunn
Ronnie Gene Dunn is an American country music singer-songwriter, known for being one half of the duo Brooks & Dunn. In 2011, Dunn began working as a solo artist following the breakup of Brooks & Dunn...

 said "He's got an Eastwood grin and a too early swagger/Hollerin' turn off that rap/And play me some Haggard". Brooks & Dunn also reference Haggard in 1993's "Rock My World (little country girl)" off their Hard Workin' Man Album as they sing "Acts like Madonna but she listens to Merle/Rock my world little country girl." In 2005, Shooter Jennings
Shooter Jennings
Waylon Albright "Shooter" Jennings is an American singer-songwriter active in the country music and Southern rock genres as well as making his first foray into psychedelic rock in 2009...

 mentioned him in the title track of his album Put the "O" Back in Country and later mentioned him in 2007 in his song "Concrete Cowboys." In 2006, Hank Williams III
Hank Williams III
Shelton Hank Williams, known as Hank 3 , is a neotraditional country and punk metal singer, drummer, bassist, and guitarist. In addition to his honky tonk recordings, Williams' style alternates among country, punk and metal...

 included Haggard as well as other country icons in the song "Country Heroes". Steve Goodman
Steve Goodman
Steve Goodman was an American folk music singer-songwriter from Chicago, Illinois. The writer of "City of New Orleans", made popular by Arlo Guthrie, Goodman won two Grammy Awards.-Personal life:...

 mentioned him, humorously but respectfully, in the song "You Never Even Called Me By My Name
You Never Even Called Me by My Name
"You Never Even Called Me by My Name" is the title of a song written by Steve Goodman and John Prine, produced by Ron Bledsoe, and recorded by country music singer David Allan Coe. It was the third single release of his career, included on his album Once Upon a Rhyme...

" (which he either co-wrote or didn't co-write with John Prine
John Prine
John Prine is an American country/folk singer-songwriter. He has been active as a recording artist and live performer since the early 1970s.-Biography:...

). George Jones
George Jones
George Glenn Jones is an American country music singer known for his long list of hit records, his distinctive voice and phrasing, and his marriage to Tammy Wynette....

 recorded two albums with him. Lynyrd Skynyrd's song Railroad Song references Haggard, "Well I'm a ride this train Lord until I find out/What Jimmy Rodgers and the Hag was all about", Nuthin' Fancy Nuthin' Fancy
Nuthin' Fancy
Nuthin' Fancy is a 1975 album by Lynyrd Skynyrd, their third studio album, and their first to reach the Top 10, peaking at #9 on the US albums chart. It was certified Gold on 6/27/1975and Platinum on 7/21/1987 by the R.I.A.A.-Side one:...

.

In 2006, Haggard was back on the charts in a duet with Gretchen Wilson
Gretchen Wilson
Gretchen Frances Wilson is an American country music artist. She made her debut in 2004 with the Grammy Award-winning single "Redneck Woman," a number-one hit on the Billboard country charts. The song served as the lead-off single of her debut album, Here for the Party...

, "Politically Uncorrect". He is also featured on "Pledge Allegiance to the Hag" on Eric Church
Eric Church
Kenneth Eric Church is an American country music singer and songwriter. Signed to Capitol Records in 2006, Church released his debut album Sinners Like Me that year...

's debut album. The song was also written by Church.

Comeback



In 2000, Haggard made a comeback of sorts, signing with the independent record label Anti and releasing the spare If I Could Only Fly to critical acclaim. He followed it in 2001 with Roots, vol. 1, a collection of Lefty Frizzell
Lefty Frizzell
Lefty Frizzell , born William Orville Frizzell, was an American country music singer and songwriter of the 1950s, and a proponent of honky tonk music. His relaxed style of singing was an influence on later stars Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Roy Orbison, George Jones and John Fogerty...

, Hank Williams, and Hank Thompson covers, along with three Haggard originals. The album, recorded in Haggard's living room with no overdubs, featured Haggard's longtime bandmates The Strangers as well as Frizzell's original lead guitarist, Norman Stephens. In December 2004, Haggard spoke at length on Larry King Live
Larry King Live
Larry King Live is an American talk show hosted by Larry King on CNN from 1985 to 2010. It was CNN's most watched and longest-running program, with over one million viewers nightly....

about his incarceration as a young man and said it was "hell" and "the scariest experience of my life".

Haggard's number one hit single "Mama Tried" is featured in the 2003 film Radio with Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Cuba Gooding, Jr.
Cuba M. Gooding, Jr. is an American actor. He is perhaps best known for his Academy Award-winning portrayal of Rod Tidwell in Cameron Crowe's 1996 film Jerry Maguire, and his critically acclaimed performance as Tré Styles in John Singleton's 1991 film Boyz n the Hood.-Early life:Gooding was born...

 and Ed Harris
Ed Harris
Edward Allen "Ed" Harris is an American actor, writer, and director, known for his performances in Appaloosa, Radio, The Rock, The Abyss, Apollo 13, A Beautiful Mind, A History of Violence, and The Truman Show. Harris has also narrated commercials for The Home Depot and other companies...

 as well as in Bryan Bertino's "The Strangers" with Liv Tyler. In addition, his song "Swingin' Doors" can be heard in the 2004 film Crash
Crash (2004 film)
Crash is a 2004 American drama film co-written, produced, and directed by Paul Haggis. The film is about racial and social tensions in Los Angeles, California. A self-described "passion piece" for Haggis, Crash was inspired by a real life incident in which his Porsche was carjacked outside a video...

and his 1981 hit "Big City" is heard in Joel and Ethan Coen's 1996 film "Fargo" and in the 2008 Larry Bishop film "Hell Ride", executive produced by Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Tarantino
Quentin Jerome Tarantino is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and actor. In the early 1990s, he began his career as an independent filmmaker with films employing nonlinear storylines and the aestheticization of violence...

.

In October 2005, Haggard released his album Chicago Wind
Chicago Wind (Merle Haggard album)
Chicago Wind is an album by American country singer and songwriter Merle Haggard. This album was released on October 25, 2005 on the Capitol Nashville label. It peaked at number 54 on the Billboard Top Country Album charts...

to mostly positive reviews. The album contained an anti-Iraq war song titled "America First," in which he laments the nation's economy and faltering infrastructure, applauds its soldiers, and sings, "Let's get out of Iraq, and get back on track." This follows from his 2003 release "Haggard Like Never Before" in which he includes a song, "That's The News".
Haggard released a bluegrass
Bluegrass music
Bluegrass music is a form of American roots music, and a sub-genre of country music. It has mixed roots in Scottish, English, Welsh and Irish traditional music...

 album, The Bluegrass Sessions
The Bluegrass Sessions (Merle Haggard album)
The Bluegrass Sessions is an album by American country music singer and songwriter Merle Haggard. This album was released on October 2, 2007 on the McCoury Music and Hag Records....

, on October 2, 2007. In 2008, Haggard was going to perform at Riverfest in Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock, Arkansas
Little Rock is the capital and the largest city of the U.S. state of Arkansas. The Metropolitan Statistical Area had a population of 699,757 people in the 2010 census...

, but the concert was canceled because he was ailing, and three other concerts were canceled as well; however, he was back on the road in June and successfully completed a tour that ended on October 19.

In April 2010, Haggard released a new album, I Am What I Am
I Am What I Am (Merle Haggard album)
I Am What I Am is an album by American country music artist Merle Haggard. It was released on April 20, 2010 by Vanguard Records. The album peaked at number 18 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.-Track listing:...

. Released to strong reviews, Haggard performed the title song on The Tonight Show With Jay Leno
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jay Leno that initially aired from May 25, 1992 to May 29, 2009, and resumed production on March 1, 2010. The fourth incarnation of the Tonight Show franchise made its debut on May 25, 1992, three days following Johnny...

in February 2011.

Equipment


Haggard has endorsed Fender guitars and has a Custom Artist signature model Telecaster. The guitar is a modified Telecaster Thinline with laminated top of figured maple, set neck with deep carved heel, birdseye maple fingerboard with 22 jumbo frets, ivoroid pickguard and binding, gold hardware, abalone Tuff Dog Tele peghead inlay, 2-Colour Sunburst finish and a pair of Fender Texas Special Tele single-coil pickups with custom-wired 4-way pickup switching. He also plays six string acoustic models. In 2001, C.F. Martin & Company introduced a limited edition Merle Haggard Signature Edition 000-28SMH acoustic guitar available with or without factory-installed electronics.

Wives and children


Haggard was married to Leona Hobbs from 1956 to 1964. They had five children: Dana, Marty (b. 1958), Noel, Kelli, and Lou, a current resident of Palm Beach, Florida (b. Sept. 4, 1963). They divorced and in 1965 he married singer Bonnie Owens
Bonnie Owens
Bonnie Owens , born Bonnie Campbell, was an American country music singer who was married to Buck Owens and later Merle Haggard.-Biography:...

; they divorced in 1978. Haggard married a third time in 1978 to Leona Williams
Leona Williams
Leona Belle Helton is an American country music singer known professionally as Leona Williams. Active since 1958, Williams has been a backing musician for Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard, to whom she was married between 1978 and 1983...

 and they were divorced in 1983. In 1985 Haggard married Debbie Parret, but they divorced in 1991. He married his current wife, Theresa Ann Lane, on September 11, 1993. They have two children, Jenessa and Ben.

Health


Haggard said he had started smoking marijuana when he was 41 years old. He admitted that in 1983 he bought "$2,000 (worth) of cocaine" and partied for five days afterward, when he says he finally realized his condition and quit for good.

Haggard underwent angioplasty
Angioplasty
Angioplasty is the technique of mechanically widening a narrowed or obstructed blood vessel, the latter typically being a result of atherosclerosis. An empty and collapsed balloon on a guide wire, known as a balloon catheter, is passed into the narrowed locations and then inflated to a fixed size...

 in 1995 to unblock clogged arteries. On November 9, 2008, it was announced that Haggard had been diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer in May of that year and underwent surgery on November 3, during which part of his lung was removed. Haggard returned home on November 8. Less than two months after his cancer surgery, Haggard played two shows on January 2 and 3, 2009, in Bakersfield at Buck Owens
Buck Owens
Alvis Edgar Owens, Jr. , better known as Buck Owens, was an American singer and guitarist who had 21 No. 1 hits on the Billboard country music charts with his band, the Buckaroos...

' Crystal Palace, and continues to tour and record.

Legacy


On December 19, 2006, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved a citizen-led resolution to re-name a portion of 7th Standard Road in Oildale as Merle Haggard Drive, which will stretch from North Chester Avenue west to U.S. Route 99
U.S. Route 99
U.S. Route 99 was the main north–south highway on the West Coast of the United States until 1964, running from Calexico, California, on the U.S.-Mexico border to Blaine, Washington, on the U.S.-Canada border. It was a route of the United States Numbered Highways, assigned in 1926 and existing...

. The first street travelers will turn onto when they leave the new airport terminal will be Merle Haggard Drive.

In 2006, Merle Haggard was honored as a BMI
Broadcast Music Incorporated
Broadcast Music, Inc. is one of three United States performing rights organizations, along with ASCAP and SESAC. It collects license fees on behalf of songwriters, composers, and music publishers and distributes them as royalties to those members whose works have been performed...

 Icon at the 54th annual BMI Pop Awards. During his songwriting career, Haggard has earned 48 BMI Country Awards, nine BMI Pop Awards, a BMI R&B Award, and 16 BMI "Million-Air" awards, all from a catalog of songs that adds up to over 25 million performances.

Merle Haggard accepted the prestigious award for lifetime achievement and "outstanding contribution to American culture" from the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts is a performing arts center located on the Potomac River, adjacent to the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C...

 on December 4, 2010. At a December 5, 2010 gala in Washington, D.C. he was honored with musical performances by Kris Kristofferson
Kris Kristofferson
Kristoffer "Kris" Kristofferson is an American musician, actor, and writer. He is known for hits such as "Me and Bobby McGee", "For the Good Times", "Sunday Mornin' Comin' Down", and "Help Me Make It Through the Night"...

, Willie Nelson
Willie Nelson
Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...

, Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Crow
Sheryl Suzanne Crow is an American singer-songwriter, record producer, musician, and actress. Her music incorporates elements of rock, folk, hip hop, country and pop...

, Vince Gill
Vince Gill
Vincent Grant "Vince" Gill is an American neotraditional country singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. He has achieved commercial success and fame both as frontman to the country rock band Pure Prairie League in the 1970s, and as a solo artist beginning in 1983, where his talents as a...

, Jamey Johnson
Jamey Johnson
Jamey Johnson is an American Grammy Award nominated country music artist. Signed to BNA Records in 2005, Johnson made his debut with his single "The Dollar," the title track to his 2006 album The Dollar...

, Kid Rock
Kid Rock
Robert James "Bob" Ritchie , known by his stage name Kid Rock, is an American singer-songwriter, musician and rapper with five Grammy Awards nominations...

, Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert
Miranda Lambert is an American country music artist who gained fame as a finalist on the 2003 season of Nashville Star, where she finished in third place and later signed to Epic Records. Lambert made her debut with the release of "Me and Charlie Talking", the first single from her 2005 debut...

 and Brad Paisley
Brad Paisley
Brad Douglas Paisley is an American singer-songwriter and musician. His style crosses between traditional country music and Southern rock, and his songs are frequently laced with humor and pop culture references....

. This tribute was featured in the Tuesday December 28, 2010 CBS special, The Kennedy Center Honors
Kennedy Center Honors
The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and...

.

38 number one hits

  1. I'm a Lonesome Fugitive
    The Fugitive (song)
    "The Fugitive is a 1966 single by Merle Haggard which was written by Liz Anderson and Casey Anderson, parents of country star Lynn Anderson. "The Fugitive" was Haggard's sixth release to reach the U.S. country singles chart and his first number one on the chart. The single spent one week at...

     (1966)
  2. Branded Man
    Branded Man (song)
    "Branded Man" is a 1967 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. "Branded Man" was Merle Haggard's second number one on the country charts. The single stayed at number one for a single week and spent fifteen weeks on the chart.-Chart performance:...

     (1967)
  3. Sing Me Back Home
    Sing Me Back Home (song)
    "Sing Me Back Home" is a 1967 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. "Sing Me Back Home" would be Merle Haggard's third number one. The single spent two weeks at number one and a total of seventeen weeks on the country chart...

     (1968)
  4. The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde
    The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde (song)
    "The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde" is the title of a song written by Merle Haggard and Bonnie Owens and performed by Merle Haggard. "The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde" was Haggard's fourth number one on the U.S. country singles chart...

     (1968)
  5. Mama Tried
    Mama Tried (song)
    "Mama Tried" is an American country music song written and recorded by Merle Haggard. Released in July 1968, the song became one of the cornerstone songs of his career...

     (1968)
  6. Hungry Eyes
    Hungry Eyes (Merle Haggard song)
    "Hungry Eyes" is an American country music song written and recorded by Merle Haggard. Recorded in December 1968, the song became one of the most famous of his career.-Background:...

     (1969)
  7. Workin' Man Blues (1969)
  8. Okie from Muskogee
    Okie from Muskogee (song)
    "Okie from Muskogee" is an American country music song performed by its co-writer, Merle Haggard. Released in September 1969, the song became one of the most famous of his career.-Background:...

     (1969)
  9. The Fightin' Side of Me
    The Fightin' Side of Me
    "The Fightin' Side of Me" is an American country music song performed by its writer, Merle Haggard. Released in 1970 as the follow-up to "Okie from Muskogee", the song became one of the most famous of his career....

     (1970)
  10. Daddy Frank (The Guitar Man)
    Daddy Frank (The Guitar Man)
    "Daddy Frank " is a 1971 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. "Daddy Frank " was Haggard's tenth No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles...

     (1971)
  11. Carolyn
    Carolyn (song)
    "Carolyn" is a 1971 single written by Tommy Collins and recorded by Merle Haggard. "Carolyn" was Haggard's eleventh number one on the U.S. country singles chart. The single stayed at number one for three weeks and spent a total of fifteen weeks on the chart....

     (1971)
  12. Grandma Harp
    Grandma Harp
    "Grandma Harp is a 1972 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. "Grandma Harp" would be Merle Haggard's 12th No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in May 1972, staying atop the chart for two weeks, and spending a total 14 weeks in the top 40.-Content:The song is a reflection of a...

     (1972)
  13. It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)
    It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad) (song)
    "It's Not Love " is a 1972 single written by Hank Cochran and Grady Martin and recorded by Merle Haggard. "It's Not Love " would be Haggard's thirteenth number one on the country chart. The single would hit number one for one week and would spend a total of twelve weeks on the country...

     (1972)
  14. I Wonder If They Ever Think of Me
    I Wonder If They Ever Think of Me
    "I Wonder If They Ever Think of Me" is a 1972 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. "I Wonder If They Ever Think of Me" was Haggard's fourteenth number one on the U.S. country singles chart. It was number one for a single week and spent a total of thirteen weeks on the chart.-Chart...

     (1972)
  15. Everybody's Had the Blues
    Everybody's Had the Blues
    "Everybody's Had the Blues" is a 1973 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. "Everybody's Had the Blues" was a live recording that became Haggard's fifteenth number one on the U.S. country singles chart. The single stayed at number one for two weeks and spent a total of fifteen weeks on...

     (1973)
  16. If We Make It Through December
    If We Make It Through December
    "If We Make It Through December" is the title of a song written and recorded by American country music singer Merle Haggard. It was released in October 1973 as the lead single from album, of the same name. The song was included on Haggard's Christmas album released that year...

     (1973)
  17. Things Aren't Funny Anymore
    Things Aren't Funny Anymore
    "Things Aren't Funny Anymore" is a 1974 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. "Things Aren't Funny Anymore" would Merle Haggard's seventeenth number one on the country charts. The single stayed at number one for a single week and spent ten weeks on the country chart.-Chart performance:...

     (1974)
  18. Old Man from the Mountain
    Old Man from the Mountain
    "Old Man from the Mountain" is a 1974 single by Merle Haggard from the album Merle Haggard Presents His 30th Album. It was Haggard's eighteenth number one on the country singles chart. The single went to number one for a single week and spent a total of ten weeks on the chart.-Chart...

     (1974)
  19. Kentucky Gambler
    Kentucky Gambler
    "Kentucky Gambler" is a 1974 song written and performed by Dolly Parton. "Kentucky Gambler" was issued as a track from Dolly Parton's, The Bargain Store album from 1975. That same year, Merle Haggard, covered "Kentucky Gambler" where it became his nineteenth number one song on the country chart...

     (1974)
  20. Always Wanting You
    Always Wanting You
    "Always Wanting You" is a 1975 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. It was Haggard's twentieth number-one single on the U.S. country chart. It stayed at number one for two weeks and spent a total of ten weeks on the chart. In 2004, "Always Wanting You" was featured on the radio station...

     (1975)
  21. Movin' On
    Movin' On (Merle Haggard song)
    "Movin' On" is a song made famous by country music singer Merle Haggard, who also wrote it. Originally, it was the theme song to the 1974-1976 NBC-TV series of the same name...

     (1975)
  22. It's All in the Movies
    It's All in the Movies (song)
    "It's All in the Movies is a 1975 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard. "It's All in the Movies" was Merle Haggard's twenty-second number one single on the country chart. The single stayed at number one for a single week and spent a total of thirteen weeks on the country chart.Session...

     (1975)
  23. The Roots of My Raising
    The Roots of My Raising (song)
    "The Roots of My Raising" is the title track from Merle Haggard's 1975 album. "The Roots of My Raising" was written by Tommy Collins and would become Merle Haggard's twenty-third number one on the country chart. The single spent one week at number one and a total of ten weeks on the country...

     (1975)
  24. Cherokee Maiden
    Cherokee Maiden
    "Cherokee Maiden" is a Western swing love song written by Cindy Walker. The title comes from a refrain in the chorus:Merle Haggard recorded "Cherokee Maiden" in 1976 . It spent 11 weeks on the charts, reaching #1....

     (1976)
  25. Bar Room Buddies
    Bar Room Buddies
    Bar Room Buddies is the title of a song written by Milton Brown and Cliff Crofford and recorded by American country artist Merle Haggard and Clint Eastwood. The song was featured in the film Bronco Billy starring Clint Eastwood...

     (with Clint Eastwood
    Clint Eastwood
    Clinton "Clint" Eastwood, Jr. is an American film actor, director, producer, composer and politician. Eastwood first came to prominence as a supporting cast member in the TV series Rawhide...

    ) (1980)
  26. I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink
    I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink
    "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" is the title of a song written and recorded by American country music artist Merle Haggard. It was released as a single in October 1980 as the second single from the album, Back to the Barrooms. "I Think I'll Just Stay Here and Drink" would be Merle...

     (1980)
  27. My Favorite Memory
    My Favorite Memory
    "My Favorite Memory" is a 1981 single written and recorded by Merle Haggard, his twenty-fifth number one single. The single stayed at number one for one week and spent a total of ten weeks on the country chart.-Chart performance:...

     (1981)
  28. Big City
    Big City (song)
    "Big City" is a song made famous by country music singer Merle Haggard. Co-written by Haggard and Dean Holloway, the song was released in 1982 as the title track to his first album for Epic Records...

     (1981)
  29. Yesterday's Wine
    Yesterday's Wine (song)
    "Yesterday's Wine" is the title track of the 1971 album of the same name by Willie Nelson. The track was also written by Willie Nelson. In 1982, Merle Haggard and George Jones recorded a duet of "Yesterday's Wine" which became a number one single on the country chart. The single went to number...

     (with George Jones
    George Jones
    George Glenn Jones is an American country music singer known for his long list of hit records, his distinctive voice and phrasing, and his marriage to Tammy Wynette....

    ) (1982)
  30. Going Where the Lonely Go
    Going Where the Lonely Go (song)
    "Going Where the Lonely Go" is the title track from a 1982 album by Merle Haggard. "Going Where the Lonely Go" was written by Merle Haggard and would be his twenty-eighth number one country single. The single went to number one for one week and spent a total of thirteen weeks on the country...

     (1982)
  31. You Take Me for Granted
    You Take Me for Granted
    "You Take Me for Granted" is a track from Merle Haggard's 1982 album, "Going Where the Lonely Go". "You Take Me For Granted" was written by Leona Williams, Merle Haggard's wife and was his twenty-ninth number one on the country chart. The single stayed at number one for one week and spent a total...

     (1982)
  32. Pancho and Lefty
    Pancho and Lefty
    "Pancho and Lefty" is a song written by country singer and songwriter Townes Van Zandt. Van Zandt first recorded it for his 1972 album, The Late Great Townes Van Zandt...

     (with Willie Nelson
    Willie Nelson
    Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...

    ) (1983)
  33. That's the Way Love Goes (1983)
  34. Someday When Things Are Good
    Someday When Things Are Good
    "Someday When Things Are Good is a 1984 single by Merle Haggard, who co-wrote the song with Leona Williams. "Someday When Things Are Good" was Merle Haggard's thirty-first number one country single as a solo artist. The single went to number one for one week and spent a total of thirteen weeks...

     (1984)
  35. Let's Chase Each Other Around the Room
    Let's Chase Each Other Around the Room
    "Let's Chase Each Other Around the Room" is a 1984 single by Merle Haggard, who co-wrote the song with Freddy Powers and Sherill Rodgers. "Let's Chase Each Other Around the Room" was Merle Haggard's thirty-second number one country single as a solo artist. The single went to number one for one...

     (1984)
  36. A Place to Fall Apart
    A Place to Fall Apart
    "A Place to Fall Apart" is a 1984 collaboration by Merle Haggard with Janie Fricke. "A Place to Fall Apart" was written by Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, and Freddy Powers and was the first single where both Haggard and Fricke worked together...

     (with Janie Frickie) (1984)
  37. Natural High
    Natural High (Merle Haggard song)
    "Natural High" is a 1985 single written by Freddy Powers and recorded by Merle Haggard. "Natural High" was Merle Haggard's thirty-third number one single on the country chart as a solo artist. The single featuring harmony vocals by Janie Fricke went to number one for one week and spent a total of...

     (1985)
  38. Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star
    Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star
    "Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star" is a 1987 single by Merle Haggard, who co-wrote the song with Freddy Powers. "Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star" was the last of Merle Haggard's thirty-four number one singles as a solo artist. The single went to number one for one week and spent fifteen weeks on the...

     (1987)

Awards


Academy of Country Music
Academy of Country Music
The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

  • 1965 Top New Male Vocalist
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

  • 1965 Top Vocal Duo
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

     with Bonnie Owens
    Bonnie Owens
    Bonnie Owens , born Bonnie Campbell, was an American country music singer who was married to Buck Owens and later Merle Haggard.-Biography:...

  • 1966 Top Male Vocalist
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

  • 1967 Top Vocal Duo
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

     with Bonnie Owens
    Bonnie Owens
    Bonnie Owens , born Bonnie Campbell, was an American country music singer who was married to Buck Owens and later Merle Haggard.-Biography:...

  • 1969 Album of the Year
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

     – "Okie from Muskogee
    Okie from Muskogee
    Okie from Muskogee is an album by Merle Haggard and the Strangers, released in 1969. The album won the Academy of Country Music award for Album of the Year in 1969. Haggard also won Single of the Year for "Okie from Muskogee" as well as Top Male Vocalist.Haggard has stated that the title song on...

    "
  • 1969 Single of the Year
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

     – "Okie from Muskogee
    Okie from Muskogee (song)
    "Okie from Muskogee" is an American country music song performed by its co-writer, Merle Haggard. Released in September 1969, the song became one of the most famous of his career.-Background:...

    "
  • 1969 Top Vocal Duo
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

     – with Bonnie Owens
    Bonnie Owens
    Bonnie Owens , born Bonnie Campbell, was an American country music singer who was married to Buck Owens and later Merle Haggard.-Biography:...

  • 1970 Entertainer of the Year
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

  • 1970 Top Male Vocalist
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

  • 1972 Top Male Vocalist
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

  • 1974 Top Male Vocalist
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

  • 1981 Top Male Vocalist
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

  • 1982 Song of the Year
    Academy of Country Music
    The Academy of Country Music was founded in 1964 in Los Angeles, California as the Country & Western Music Academy. Whereas the Country Music Association, founded in 1958, was based in Nashville, the Academy sought to promote country music in the western states. Among those involved in the...

     – "Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver)
    Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver)
    "Are the Good Times Really Over " is a single by American country music artist Merle Haggard. Released in May 1982, it was the third single from his album Big City. The song reached #2 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart and #1 on the RPM Country Tracks chart in Canada.-Chart performance:...

    "


Country Music Association
Country Music Association
The Country Music Association was founded in 1958 in Nashville, Tennessee. It originally consisted of only 233 members and was the first trade organization formed to promote a music genre...

  • 1970 Album of the Year
    Country Music Association Awards
    The Country Music Association Awards, also known as the CMA Awards, or the CMAs, and not to be confused with the ACM Awards, are voted on by business members of the Country Music Association. The first CMA awards were presented at an untelevised ceremony in Nashville's Municipal Auditorium in 1967...

     – "Okie from Muskogee
    Okie from Muskogee
    Okie from Muskogee is an album by Merle Haggard and the Strangers, released in 1969. The album won the Academy of Country Music award for Album of the Year in 1969. Haggard also won Single of the Year for "Okie from Muskogee" as well as Top Male Vocalist.Haggard has stated that the title song on...

    "
  • 1970 Entertainer of the Year
    Country Music Association Awards
    The Country Music Association Awards, also known as the CMA Awards, or the CMAs, and not to be confused with the ACM Awards, are voted on by business members of the Country Music Association. The first CMA awards were presented at an untelevised ceremony in Nashville's Municipal Auditorium in 1967...

  • 1970 Male Vocalist of the Year
    Country Music Association Awards
    The Country Music Association Awards, also known as the CMA Awards, or the CMAs, and not to be confused with the ACM Awards, are voted on by business members of the Country Music Association. The first CMA awards were presented at an untelevised ceremony in Nashville's Municipal Auditorium in 1967...

  • 1970 Single of the Year
    Country Music Association Awards
    The Country Music Association Awards, also known as the CMA Awards, or the CMAs, and not to be confused with the ACM Awards, are voted on by business members of the Country Music Association. The first CMA awards were presented at an untelevised ceremony in Nashville's Municipal Auditorium in 1967...

     – "Okie from Muskogee
    Okie from Muskogee (song)
    "Okie from Muskogee" is an American country music song performed by its co-writer, Merle Haggard. Released in September 1969, the song became one of the most famous of his career.-Background:...

    "
  • 1983 Vocal Duo of the Year
    Country Music Association Awards
    The Country Music Association Awards, also known as the CMA Awards, or the CMAs, and not to be confused with the ACM Awards, are voted on by business members of the Country Music Association. The first CMA awards were presented at an untelevised ceremony in Nashville's Municipal Auditorium in 1967...

     – with Willie Nelson
    Willie Nelson
    Willie Hugh Nelson is an American country music singer-songwriter, as well as an author, poet, actor, and activist. The critical success of the album Shotgun Willie , combined with the critical and commercial success of Red Headed Stranger and Stardust , made Nelson one of the most recognized...



Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum identifies and preserves the evolving history and traditions of country music and educates its audiences...

  • Inducted in 1994
    Inductees of the Country Music Hall of Fame
    This is a list of inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame.Number of Inductees : 115 . Of these 15 are women and two are groups that include...



Grammy Awards
  • 1984 Best Country Vocal Performance, Male
    Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance
    The Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance was awarded between 1965 and 2011. The award has had several minor name changes:*From 1965 to 1967 the award was known as Best Country & Western Vocal Performance - Male...

     – "That's The Way Love Goes"
  • 1998 Best Country Collaboration with Vocals
    Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals
    The Grammy Award for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals was an honor presented at the Grammy Awards, a ceremony that was established in 1958 and originally called the Gramophone Awards, to quality country music collaborations for artists who do not normally perform together...

     with Clint Black
    Clint Black
    Clint Patrick Black is an American country music singer-songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist and occasional actor. Signed to RCA Records in 1989, Black made his debut with his Killin' Time album, which produced four straight Number One singles on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country...

    , Joe Diffie
    Joe Diffie
    Joe Logan Diffie is an American country music singer known for his ballads and novelty songs. Between 1990 and 2004, Diffie charted 35 cuts on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, including five number one singles: his debut release "Home", "If the Devil Danced ", "Third Rock from the Sun",...

    , Emmylou Harris
    Emmylou Harris
    Emmylou Harris is an American singer-songwriter and musician. In addition to her work as a solo artist and bandleader, both as an interpreter of other composers' works and as a singer-songwriter, she is a sought-after backing vocalist and duet partner, working with numerous other artists including...

    , Alison Krauss
    Alison Krauss
    Alison Maria Krauss is an American bluegrass-country singer, songwriter and fiddler. She entered the music industry at an early age, winning local contests by the age of ten and recording for the first time at fourteen. She signed with Rounder Records in 1985 and released her first solo album in...

    , Patty Loveless
    Patty Loveless
    Patty Loveless , is an American country music singer.Since her emergence on the country music scene in late 1986 with her first album, Loveless has been one of the most popular female singers of the Neotraditional country movement, although she has also recorded albums in the Country pop and...

    , Earl Scruggs
    Earl Scruggs
    Earl Eugene Scruggs is an American musician noted for perfecting and popularizing a 3-finger banjo-picking style that is a defining characteristic of bluegrass music...

    , Ricky Skaggs
    Ricky Skaggs
    Rickie Lee "Ricky" Skaggs is a country and bluegrass singer, musician, producer, and composer. He primarily plays mandolin; however, he also plays fiddle, guitar, and banjo.-Early career:...

    , Marty Stuart
    Marty Stuart
    John Martin "Marty" Stuart is an American country music singer-songwriter, known for both his traditional style, and eclectic merging of rockabilly, honky tonk, and traditional country music...

    , Pam Tillis
    Pam Tillis
    Pamela Yvonne "Pam" Tillis is an American country music singer-songwriter and actress. She is the daughter of country music singer Mel Tillis....

    , Randy Travis
    Randy Travis
    Randy Travis is an American country music singer and actor. Since 1985, he has recorded 20 studio albums and charted more than 30 singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts, 22 of which were number one hits...

    , Travis Tritt
    Travis Tritt
    James Travis Tritt is an American country music singer from Marietta, Georgia. He signed to Warner Bros. Records in 1989, releasing seven studio albums and a greatest hits package for the label between then and 1999. In the 2000s, he released two albums on Columbia Records and one for the defunct...

     & Dwight Yoakam
    Dwight Yoakam
    Dwight David Yoakam is an American singer-songwriter, actor and film director, most famous for his pioneering country music...

    for "Same Old Train"
  • 1999 Grammy Hall of Fame Award
    Grammy Hall of Fame Award
    The Grammy Hall of Fame Award is a special Grammy award established in 1973 to honor recordings that are at least twenty-five years old and that have "qualitative or historical significance"...

     – "Mama Tried
    Mama Tried (song)
    "Mama Tried" is an American country music song written and recorded by Merle Haggard. Released in July 1968, the song became one of the cornerstone songs of his career...

    "


Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was established by the Nashville Songwriters Foundation, Inc. in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. A non-profit organization, its objective is to honor and preserve the songwriting legacy that is uniquely associated with music community in the city of...

  • Inducted in 1977
    Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
    The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame was established by the Nashville Songwriters Foundation, Inc. in Nashville, Tennessee, United States. A non-profit organization, its objective is to honor and preserve the songwriting legacy that is uniquely associated with music community in the city of...



Kennedy Center Honors
Kennedy Center Honors
The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and...

  • Inducted in 2010
    Kennedy Center Honors
    The Kennedy Center Honors is an annual honor given to those in the performing arts for their lifetime of contributions to American culture. The Honors have been presented annually since 1978 in Washington, D.C., during gala weekend-long events which culminate in a performance for—and...


Sources

  • Di Salvatore, Bryan. (1998). "Merle Haggard". In The Encyclopedia of Country Music. Paul Kingsbury (ed.), New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 222–24
  • Di Salvatore, Bryan. "Ornery", The New Yorker, February 12, 1990, pp. 39–77
  • Fox, Aaron A. "White Trash Alchemies of the Abject Sublime: Country as 'Bad' Music", in Christopher J. Washburne and Maiken Derno (eds.), Bad Music: The Music We Love to Hate, New York: Routledge, 2004 (ISBN 0-415-94366-3)
  • Haggard, Merle, with Tom Carter. My House of Memories: For the Record. New York: HarperEntertainment, 1999
  • Haggard, Merle, and Peggy Russell. Sing Me Back Home. New York: Times Books, 1981

External links