RIP Merle Haggard 1937 – 2016

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It’s not every day you hear of a country legend dying, let alone on their birthday, of all days. Country music singer Merle Haggard was certainly a “one-of-a-kind”.

He did after all become known for one of his songs entitled,”Okie from Muskogee.” Haggard died of complications from double pneumonia in his home in California today.

It’s hard to imagine that his music career spanned six decades.32E87DF400000578-3526856-image-a-79_1459965158302

That’s a long time for any music performer. let alone country western. Haggard recorded over 3 dozen number 1 hits over that time period. I think many of his fans loved him not only because of his music, but because he came from a rugged life that included even a prison term in San Quentin.

Haggard actually saw Johnny Cash perform while in prison in 1958 and decided to make a career of music after being paroled.

I would’ve become a lifetime criminal if music hadn’t saved my ass,’ Haggard said in a PBS documentary. ‘I’m living proof that things go wrong in America and I’m also living proof that things can go right.’

During his time as governor of California, Ronald Reagan pardoned Haggard for his crime.

Haggard returned to his hometown in 1960 and, along with Buck Owens, helped define what became known as the Bakersfield sound – a more raw, twangy-er country sound than the highly produced music that was coming out of Nashville at the time.

Here’s what some had to say about Merle’s death:

“Country music has suffered one of the greatest losses it will ever experience,” said country star Charlie Daniels on Twitter. “Rest in peace Merle Haggard.”
“Love and prayers for the Haggard family. Merle was a pioneer … a true entertainer … a legend,” added Carrie Underwood. “There will never be another like him.”
“There are no words to describe the loss & sorrow felt within all of music with the passing of Merle Haggard. Thank God for his life & songs,” said singer Brad Paisley.

Here’s to the “twangy-er” country music that we will miss!

Let’s hope we can still continue to wave “old glory” down at the courthouse…

God Bless Merle Haggard’s family. May he rest in peace.

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