Last week one of Country Music’s great singer/songwriters passed on. Merle Haggard, one of the creators of the “Bakersfield sound”, died at home surrounded by family and friends. Merle was 79 and had battled cancer for several years. A prolific songwriter with an authentic country twang that could be heard for decades all across America on jukeboxes in taverns and AM radios in pick-up trucks.
Born in Oklahoma, during the dust bowl years, his family migrated to California for a better life. Like many of those who fled the Great Dust Bowl, the Haggard family found only more hardship in the “Promised Land”. Merle’s father died a short while after the family relocated. Young Merle began to skip school and get into trouble, eventually winding up in prison on a burglary conviction. It was while he was serving time in prison that he heard Johnny Cash and that seemed to set his life in a new direction. Music was key to his recovery and the rest is history. Read one of the many obituaries here.