Brown - Dark
Oildale, California, USA
Traditional Country, Honky Tonk, Bakersfield Sound, Western Swing Revival
Rebellious, Poignant, Reverent, Dramatic, Uncompromising, Earthy, Laid-Back/Mellow, Rousing, Freewheeling, Rambunctious, Searching, Yearning, Warm, Nostalgic, Swaggering, Melancholy, Earnest, Intimate, Restrained, Autumnal, Provocative
Guitar, Songwriter, Vocals
Soundtrack, Actor/Actress, Music Department
Has Detailed Data (New)
Profile Bio Text
Merle Ronald Haggard (born April 6, 1937) is an American country music singer, guitarist and songwriter.
Despite serving a prison term in the early 1960s, Merle Haggard has become one of the true giants of country music, as a singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band "The Strangers" helped create the Bakersfield Sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster guitars, vocal harmonies, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville Sound recordings of the same era. By the 1970s, Haggard was aligned with the growing outlaw country movement, and has continued to release successful albums through the 1990s and into the 2000s. His songs display unflinching personal honesty about such universal themes as love, loss, patriotism, regret and redemption.
Merle Haggard was born in Bakersfield, California in 1937. His parents, Flossie Mae Harp and James Francis Haggard, moved from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression. At that time, much of the population of Bakersfield consisted of economic refugees from Oklahoma and surrounding states.
Haggard`s father died when Merle was nine years old, and Merle soon began to rebel by committing petty crimes and truancy. As a result of being caught shoplifting in 1950 (at age 13), he was sent to a juvenile detention center. (In Haggard`s 40 #1 Hits CD song book- .)
In 1951, Haggard ran away to Texas with a friend, but returned that same year and was again arrested, this time for truancy and petty larceny. He ran away from that juvenile detention center to which he was sent and went to Modesto, 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, a high-security installation. Shortly after he was released, 15 months later, Haggard was sent back after beating a local boy during a burglary attempt.
After his third release, Haggard saw Lefty Frizzell in concert with his friend, Bob Teague. Haggard sang a couple of songs for Frizzell, who was so impressed that he allowed Haggard to sing at the concert. The audience loved Haggard and he began working on a full-time music career. After earning a local reputation, Haggard`s money problems caught up with him. He was arrested for robbing a Bakersfield tavern in 1957 and was sent to prison in San Quentin for 10 years.
Even while in prison, Haggard was wild, running a gambling and brewing racket from his cell. Merle attended three of Johnny Cash`s concerts at San Quentin. Seeing Cash perform inspired Haggard to straighten up and pursue his singing. Several years later, at another Cash concert, Haggard came up to Johnny and told him "I certainly enjoyed your show at San Quentin." Cash said "Merle, I don`t remember you bein` in that show." Merle Haggard said, "Johnny, I wasn`t in that show, I was in the audience." While put in solitary confinement, Haggard encountered author and death row inmate Caryl Chessman. 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. Chessman`s predicament along with Rabbit`s inspired Haggard to turn his life around. He 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`d ever had. Haggard was later pardoned by Governor Ronald Reagan.
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 of the Nashville Sound. Haggard`s first song was "Skid Row." In 1962, Haggard wound up performing at a Wynn Stewart show in Las Vegas 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.
In 1968, Haggard`s first tribute LP Same Train, Different Time: A Tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, was released to great acclaim.
"Okie From Muskogee", 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." (Phipps 2001). 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 protestors. They didn`t know anything more about the war in Vietnam than I did. I thought how my dad, who was from Oklahoma, would ha
Couple Profile Source
Full Name at Birth
Merle Ronald Haggard
Page Display = 2 (Legacy)
Has Detailed Data (Music)
Has Detailed Data (105)
Claim to Fame
Branded Man (1967)
Has Detailed Data (76)
Music Profile Complete
James Francis Haggard
Flossie Mae Haggard
Music Genre (Text)
Country, Western, Outlaw Country, Bakersfield Sound
Capitol, MCA, Epic, Curb, ANTI, Vanguard
Music Genre (Text)
outlaw country, Bakersfield sound
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