Merle Haggard Arrest RecordsMerle Haggard was born during the Great Depression on April 6, 1937, in Oildale, California. With 38 No.1 hits in the country charts, he came to be known as a country legend of all time. His childhood was marred with struggle and petty crime. Haggard, however, turned his life around in 1960 and became a successful country singer.
He was also a songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler. Throughout his career, the Great Depression was his muse. He especially gained popularity for his songs about the working class. In 2006, he was awarded the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. On February 9, 2016, Haggard recorded his last song 'Kern River Blues' which spoke about his departure from Bakersfield in the 70s and his dislike for politicians. He died of double pneumonia, on his 79th birthday - April 6, 2016 - at his ranch in California.
Merle Haggard spent six decades composing and performing country music. He started performing in 1960 and started his recording with Tally Records. However, it was not until 1965 that he got his first break and had his first national top-10 record with (My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers.
The year 1967 saw his first #1 single by recording "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive" along with The Strangers. The song was written by Liz Anderson and her husband Casey Anderson.
The end of the 60s decade saw more of his number-one hits such as "Sing me back home", "The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde" and "Mama Tried".
Haggard gave his 38 #1 hits on the US country charts between the 1960s and 1980s. Several of his songs also made it the Billboard all-genre singles chart. He has received many awards and honors for his music and his contribution to the country music. In addition to the 2006 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, he also received Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977; Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994, among others. In 2013, California State University, Bakersfield rewarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.
During the 1980s, Haggard went through a third divorce with his wife Leona Williams. The next decade was spent by him with alcohol and drug problems. Later on, he had described this period of his life as the male menopause or his mid-life crisis.
Merle Haggard had a difficult childhood. He was especially troubled after his father died in 1945. Haggard turned rebellious and was involved in petty crimes like theft, shoplifting and even writing bad checks. In 1950, he was sent to the juvenile detention center for shoplifting. He managed to escape and along with his friend Bob Teague, he ran away to Texas.
Later that year when returned, he was again arrested and charged with robbery. Once again escaping the prison, he ran to Modesto, California where he worked random jobs like carrying hay or driving a potato truck. In 1951, on returning to Bakersfield, once more he was sent to juvenile detention for truancy and petty larceny. He tried escaping again and was then sentenced to a 15-month high-security prison to Preston School of Industry.
On release, he tried to make a career in music by singing songs that were well received by the audience. He worked as farm-hand while also playing at the nightclubs. However, due to the financial crisis, he tried robbing Bakersfield roadhouse but was once again arrested and sent to prison for 3 years.
It was during these 3 years when he really decided to turn his life around and got serious about his music career. He kept working a steady job in the prison's textile plant. In 1960, he was finally released on parole from San Quentin. In 1972, President Ronald Reagan pardoned him of his past crimes, having established as a country music star.
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