Merle Haggard died today on his birthday at the age of 79 reports multiple sources.
Canceling tour dates in December of 2015 after he checked into a hospital where he was diagnosed with double pneumonia. In an interview later with Willie’s Roadhouse on Sirius XM, he said he was “nearly dead” when he was hospitalized for two weeks. After that incident Haggard canceled his upcoming shows.
Here are some things you may not have known about Merle Haggard.
1.The country icon was born Merle Ronald Haggard in 1937 just outside of Bakersfield, California, a town where he would pioneer his own sound.
2.His family struggled financially and at one point he lived in an old converted boxcar after his family home was destroyed by fire.
3. Haggard’s father died when he was 9 after which he turned rebellious, hopping a freight train to Fresno. As a result he was picked up by the authorities when he was just 10, according to his official biography.
4. Haggard did time in prison when he was 20 years old. It was there where he began to take music seriously while in prison at San Quentin. Haggard was present for the Johnny Cash performance that was captured for the live album At San Quentin.
5.Haggard released his first single, a cover of Wynn Stewart’s “Sing a Sad Song,” in 1964. Other releases for Haggard include: “The Bottle Let Me Down,” “Branded Man,” “Sing Me Back Home,” “Mama Tried” and many more.
6. His success continued throughout the 70s and 80s with hits “If We Make It Through December,” “Ramblin’ Fever,” “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” and “That’s the Way Love Goes.”
7. Haggard recently released a new album, Django & Jimmie, with Willie Nelson in 2015, debuting at No. 1 on Billboard‘s Country Albums chart.
8.Haggard received numerous honors. Named the BMI Icon in 1996,won multiple ACM, CMA and Grammy awards,became a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977 and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994.
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