Merle Haggard

Born Apr 6, 1937

Merle Ronald Haggard is an American country musicsongwriter, singer, guitarist, fiddler,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.… Read More

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Learn about the memorable moments in the evolution of Merle Haggard.


1937 Birth He remodeled the boxcar, and soon after moved in, also purchasing the lot, where Merle Ronald Haggard was born on April 6, 1937. … Read More
1945 8 Years Old His father died of a brain hemorrhage in 1945, an event that deeply affected Haggard during his childhood and the rest of his life. … Read More


1950 13 Years Old Haggard committed a number of minor offenses, such as thefts and writing bad checks. He was sent to a juvenile detention center for shoplifting in 1950. … Read More
1951 14 Years Old He returned to Bakersfield in 1951, and was again arrested for truancy and petty larceny and sent to a juvenile detention center. … Read More
1956 19 Years Old 1 More Event
He eventually landed a spot on the local television show Chuck Wagon, in 1956.


1957 - 1962 5 More Events
1964 27 Years Old He asked for permission to record it, and the resulting single was a national hit in 1964. … Read More
1965 28 Years Old 1 More Event
At the time of Haggard's first top-10 hit "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers" in 1965, Owens (who had formerly been married to Buck Owens) was known as a solo performer, a fixture on the Bakersfield club scene who had appeared on television. She won the new Academy of Country Music's first ever award for Female Vocalist after her 1965 debut album, Don't Take Advantage of Me, hit the top five on the country albums chart. … Read More
1966 29 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1966, Haggard recorded "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive", also written by Liz Anderson with her husband Casey Anderson, which became his first number-one single. … Read More


…  In 1968, Haggard's first tribute LP Same Train, Different Time: A Tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, was also released to acclaim. … Read More
1969 32 Years Old 1 More Event
In 1969, Haggard released "Okie From Muskogee", with lyrics ostensibly reflecting the singer's pride in being from Middle America where people are considered patriotic, do not smoke marijuana, take LSD, burn draft cards, or challenge authority. … Read More
1970 - 1974 4 More Events
1975 38 Years Old He also wrote and performed the theme song to the television series Movin' On, which in 1975 gave him another number-one country hit. … Read More


1977 40 Years Old In 1977, he switched to MCA Records and began exploring the themes of depression, alcoholism, and middle age on albums such as Serving 190 Proof and The Way I Am.
…  The album reached number four on the country charts, and Haggard and Owens recorded a number of additional duets before their divorce in 1978. … Read More
1980 43 Years Old 1 More Event
Haggard sang a duet cover of Billy Burnette's "What's A Little Love Between Friends" with Lynda Carter in her 1980 television music special, Lynda Carter: Encore!
In 1981, Haggard published an autobiography, Sing Me Back Home. … Read More


1988 51 Years Old Haggard's last number-one hit was "Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star" from his smash album Chill Factor in 1988.
1989 52 Years Old In 1989, Haggard recorded a song, "Me and Crippled Soldiers Give a Damn", in response to the Supreme Court's decision to allow flag burning under the First Amendment. … Read More
1993 56 Years Old He married his fifth wife, Theresa Ann Lane, on September 11, 1993. … Read More


2000 - 2001 2 More Events
When political opponents were attacking the Dixie Chicks for criticizing President George W. Bush's invasion of Iraq, Haggard spoke up for the band on July 25, 2003, saying:
2006 69 Years Old 1 More Event
…  He is also featured singing a verse on Eric Church's 2006 song "Pledge Allegiance to the Hag". … Read More
2007 - 2008 2 More Events
2010 73 Years Old In April 2010, Haggard released a new album, I Am What I Am, to strong reviews, and he performed the title song on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno in February 2011.
2014 77 Years Old On January 26, 2014, Haggard performed his 1969 song "Okie from Muskogee" at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards along with Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, and Blake Shelton. … Read More
…  In 2015, Haggard and Nelson recorded a video, "It's All Going to Pot", where both are seen singing in a recording studio while smoking joints and also recorded another duet album Django and Jimmie.
…  The song was recorded February 9, 2016, and features his son Ben on guitar.
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