Merle Haggard Dies at 79

CALIFORNIA – Last night, on his birthday, the American country music songwriter, singer, guitarist, fiddler, and instrumentalist, Merle Haggard died. Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the twang of the Fender Telecaster and a unique mix of traditional country steel guitar sound. After the death of his father, at the age of nine, Haggard led a troubled life incarcerated multiple times in his youth and a prison term in San Quentin. He was able to turn his life around through music, finding popularity with songs about the working class and the outlaw life. He recorded more than three dozen No. 1 country hits from 1960-2010, including “Oakie from Muskogee”, “Fightin’ Side of Me” and “Mama Tried”. He was married five times and has four children. In 1994 he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and in 1997 the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. He is the recipient of 48 BMI Country Awards, 9 BMI Pop Awards, a BMI R&B award, and in 2010 he was the recipient of a Kennedy Center Honor for a lifetime of contribution to American culture. Haggard died from complications from pneumonia at his home in Northern California. Merle Haggard, was 79.

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