Merle Haggard is a name that resonates with many country music lovers around the world. His contributions to the genre are undisputed, with a career spanning over five decades and 38 number-one hits. But while many people are familiar with his music and his well-documented life story, there are still some lesser-known facts about the “Okie from Muskogee” that are worth exploring. Here are some of the surprising and fascinating unknown facts about Merle Haggard.
Haggard was born in a boxcar:
Merle Haggard was born on April 6, 1937, in a boxcar near Oildale, California. His parents were migrants who had moved to California during the Great Depression in search of work. They lived in the boxcar for the first few years of Haggard’s life, before moving into a converted garage.
He was a troubled youth:
Haggard’s early years were marked by a troubled youth, including multiple run-ins with the law. He was sent to a juvenile detention center at the age of 14 for truancy and theft, and later spent time in prison for attempted burglary and escape attempts.
Haggard was inspired by Lefty Frizzell:
Haggard was a huge fan of Lefty Frizzell, one of the pioneers of honky-tonk music. He once said that Frizzell’s music “changed his life” and inspired him to pursue a career in music.
He was a talented musician:
In addition to his singing and songwriting talents, Haggard was also a skilled musician. He played multiple instruments, including guitar, fiddle, and mandolin, and often played on his own records.
Haggard wrote songs for other artists:
While Haggard is best known for his own hits, he also wrote songs for other country music artists. One of his most famous compositions, “Today I Started Loving You Again,” was recorded by many artists, including Tammy Wynette and Emmylou Harris.
He had a close relationship with Johnny Cash:
Haggard and Johnny Cash had a close friendship and often performed together. Haggard once said that Cash was like a “big brother” to him and that he was a major influence on his music.
Haggard was a big fan of Buck Owens:
While Haggard and Buck Owens had a well-documented rivalry in the 1960s, Haggard later admitted that he was a big fan of Owens’ music. He even recorded an album of Owens’ songs as a tribute to his friend and fellow musician.
In conclusion, Merle Haggard was not only a hugely successful musician but also a complex and fascinating individual. From his humble beginnings to his troubled youth and enduring friendships, these lesser-known facts shed light on the man behind the music and his enduring legacy in the world of country music.
Merle Haggard had many evergreen hits throughout his career, but some of his most popular and enduring songs include:
“Okie from Muskogee”
“The Fightin’ Side of Me”
“Workin’ Man Blues”
“If We Make It Through December”
“Sing Me Back Home”
“Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star”
“I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”
“Today I Started Loving You Again”
These songs have remained popular over the years and continue to be played on radio stations and in live performances by other artists.