Country music lost one of its greatest legends today. Merle Haggard has passed away after battling a series of poor health, April 06, 2016. He was 79.

Late last year, Haggard learned that he was battling double pneumonia which led to a series of cancelled shows. During an interview with Rolling Stone, Haggard stated that he was “lucky to be alive” after his recent health scare. The artist first canceled two March shows followed by the cancellation of his April schedule. He had hoped to resume playing in May after taking a much-needed rest.

Merle Haggard was born just outside of Bakersfield, California, in 1937. The music that he has created in his career undeniably describes his life growing up. His father who was a fiddle player himself died when Haggard was only nine years old.

Since his father’s passing, by the age of 10, Haggard was already in trouble with the law after he hopped on a freight train and made it all the way to Fresno before getting caught. His mother had tried to control him by putting him in multiple juvenile detention centers which failing to do any good as he continued to bump heads with the law.

It wasn’t until he was 20 that Haggard started taking music seriously when he saw the infamous Johnny Cash perform at the San Quentin prison where he was serving time for burglary.

In 1964, Haggard released his first single which was “Sing a Sad Song” by Wynn Stewart. Since then, he has become one of the most influential and respected artists in country music. In 1965, he formed his own band called The Strangers and two years later in 1967; they released their singles, “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive” and “Branded Man.” It was only going up from there.

In his career, Haggard released some of the greatest hits such as “Mama Tried,” “If We Make It Through December,” “Ramblin’ Fever,” and “Sing Me Back Home” written in 2008 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer according to his biography.

Haggard was successful in life; he was inducted into the songwriters hall of fame in 1977, and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994 for his musical achievements which comprised 38 No. 1 hit songs. In more recent years, he found himself on top of the charts once again when he collaborated with Willie Nelson in 2015 and released their album, Django & Jimmie.

The famous country music artist had been married and divorced a few times before he married Theresa Ann Lane in 1993 in whom he is survived as well as his children Dana, Marty, Kelli, Noel, Ben, and Jenessa.

Merle Haggard
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