Merle Haggard, the legendary country singer, died in his place of residence at Palo Cedro, California. Haggard, who was famously known for his sensational hits ‘‘Mama Tried’’ and ‘‘Okie From Muskogee’’ passed away on Wednesday April 6th, the day of his 79th birthday.
Frank Mull, the country icon’s manager, said that the deceased had been battling pneumonia for months on both of his lungs. Haggard was always on an ambitious schedule of making his tours but after the persistence of the ailment, he was forced to cancel quite a number of his shows in 2016.
He was able to overcome an early life filled with petty crime which landed him in a San Quentin prison term which unveiled his raggedy, brigand image that was a major selling point of his musical persona. In his impressive musical career of more than six decades, he managed to record about 40 No.1 country hit songs up to the 2010s from the 1960s!
Haggard said that his only opportunity out of the poverty that he had been brought up with was music and in fact, in an interview back in 2014 he said that his decisions were rather easy. Between working in the oil fields and the cotton patches, there was nothing that he could compare to music. When he first started his musical career, he said he managed to make more cash in a beer joint that he would when he dug ditches.
Merle Haggard’s brusque baritone voice became an unforgettable presence in the country setting and his tunes about blue collar workers, convicts and drifters quickly became some celebrated classics. Some of his best lyrical compositions were largely based on celebration of underdogs and outlaws but then, he also expressed a steadfast sense of national pride. Nonetheless, two years ago he insisted that there is hardly any thematic concept that he has not written about in his career with more than 700 songs!
His fame in the country music industry brought him unanticipated morality that made him a respectable figure in the society despite his criminal past and in fact, he earned a presidential pardon in 1972 from the then president, Ronald Reagan. Later on in the years that came, he was even invited to the White House to sing by President Richard Nixon. Furthermore, a portion of the road in Kern County was renamed to Merle Haggard Drive as an honor to his legacy by the county official.
Upon Haggard’s death, tributes in his honor have been pouring from the world of county music and beyond with fellow country icons like Carrie Underwood and Charlie Daniels leading with messages of condolences.
At an interview way back in 1999 by the Boston Globe, he admitted that the people loved how honest he was with his musical expression. He did not just sing; he lived through whatever he described in his music.
Merle Haggard remains more than just a country music icon. He is also a solid role model in our lives for he was able to rise above the unending turmoil of life such as poverty, crime, alcoholism and even four failed marriages.
RIP Merle Haggard