Merle Haggard Biography, Life, Interesting Facts
When talking about Merle Haggard, the word ‘legend’ remarks at some point. It is due to his artistry and supportive pose in the American music industry. His lyrics defined what he had studied, analyzed and observed in his previous surroundings. He effortlessly relied on what he saw, heard and felt through his songs.
The lyrics are utterly simple, and Merle’s music is easy to understand. Others who have faced a similar kind of life recognize the fact-based truth on the stories he narrated. His real passion was for others to hear and acknowledge the ample reality in them. When this song plays, even an 80-year-old grandma can understand the defined crisp in it.
Childhood And Early Life
On 6th April 1997, Merle Ronald Haggard was born in California, Oildale, in the United States to Flossie and Jim. Unfortunately, their firm burnt down, so they were forced to move and went to live in a little boxcar. His father worked as a carpenter, but both struggled to make ends meet. The good thing is that they always had food on the table and secured shelter.
At the age of nine, his father suffered a stroke, and he later died. His mother landed a bookkeeping job just to make sure her child doesn’t sleep hungry. She used to leave Haggard in the safe hands of his great uncle and aunt. With his decent life, he started to behave perversely.
At only ten, Merle once hopped on a moving train where he was later found at Fresco. That was his first step toward a teenage life. After some time, Haggard found himself in reformed schools and at times escaping, only to see himself there again. All that time Merle was still troubled by his musical talent. His father used to play the guitar and fiddle back in Oklahoma for school gatherings and dances.
Rise To Stardom
Merle Haggard came to use his dad’s musical instruments that he played to perfection. He became a fan of Bob Wills and used to sing the song of Lefty Frizzell with the right tone. He also learned to imitate Jimmie Rodgers as he continued to perform every place and every time. At the age of 14, Haggard managed to see Lefty’s live performance.
All in all, his mentor was a savior. He later found some ways to earn from his talented voice. The money he got wasn’t enough to make him comfortable. At the age of 15, he left home with his close friends. Time didn’t pass before the two got picked up due to robbery. They were suspects but very innocent. Haggard spent two weeks in jail and tasted the prison life. He went on and off to prison till he learned to embrace freedom. His musical career gave him a chance to focus on the future. His fellow friend used to call him as Rabbit. In 1960, Merle Haggard teamed up with the Bakersfield country team.
His talent for music made Merle Haggard hope for the best. His inmate friend at the San Quentin saw that coming. In 1962, Merle joined Las Vegas Stewart’s band, and that’s where he got a chance to record his very first single. It was released in 1964 and later made into the Top Twenty hits. His other single called ‘My Friends Are Gonna Be Strangers’ went up to Top Ten list. That is when he received several attentions from the Capitol Records. He later produced his cuts known as ‘The Big City’ and ‘My Favorite Memory’ in 1981.
In 1983, he teamed up with a legend, Willie Nelson and sang ‘Pancho and Lefty’ that scored once again to the Top Hits. In 1987, he scored number one for ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star”. At that time it was tough to find a creative and hardworking artist as Merle was. He once sat down and played tribute hits to the legends that influenced him such as Lefty Frizzell, Bob Wills, and Jimmie Rodgers. Haggard’s fans liked the way he stayed true to his country tone music but still mixed elements of rock, folk music, and jazz.
In 1956, Merle Haggard married Leona Hobbs and had four children. They later divorced in 1964. In 1965, Haggard got married for the second time to a country singer, Bonnie Owens. After thirteen years they parted ways. He later married Leona Williams and Debbie Parret, but both lasted for six and five years respectively. He once admitted to using cocaine and marijuana but stopped then on in his life.
Early 1995, Merle Haggard was treated by angioplasty due to blocked arteries. In 2008, he underwent surgery to remove a tumor that was in his lung. He recovered and went on with his musical life. On April 6, 2016, Merle Haggard died from pneumonia complication. That happened on his 79th birthday where he stayed in Palo Cedro, California.