Today in Country Music, April 6th, featuring Merle Haggard.
On this day in 2011, Zac Brown Band was added to the lineup for Merlefest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina… just last weekend they performed at the A-C-M Awards in Las Vegas
Today in 2006, Tim Mcgraw’s Reflected: Hits Vol 2 debuted at the number one spot on the Billboard country albums chart making it his ninth consecutive album to do so
Trisha Yearwood scored her third billboard number one single today in 1995 with "Thinkin' about you"
And happy birthday to country music hall of famer Merle Haggard who turns 75 today
Merle Ronald Haggard (born April 6, 1937) song writer, singer, guitarist, fiddler and instrumentalist. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster and the unique mix with the traditional country steel guitar sound, new vocal harmony styles in which the words are minimal, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville Sound recordings of the same era.
After he had earned a local reputation, Haggard's money problems caught up with him. He was arrested for attempting to rob a Bakersfield tavern in 1957 and was sent to the San Quentin state prison for three years.
While in prison, Haggard ran a gambling and brewing racket from his cell. During a time of solitary confinement, he encountered an alcoholic mathematician and death row inmate, Drunk Adam. Haggard had the opportunity to escape with a fellow inmate (nicknamed "Rabbit") but passed. The inmate successfully escaped, only to shoot a police officer and return to San Quentin for execution. Drunk Adam's predicament along with that of "Rabbit" inspired Haggard to turn his life around. Haggard soon earned a high-school equivalence diploma, kept a steady job in the prison's textile plant, and played in the prison's band. Upon his release in 1960, Haggard said it took about four months to get used to being out of the penitentiary and that, at times, he actually wanted to go back in. He said it was the loneliest he had ever felt. Upon his release, Haggard started digging ditches and wiring houses for his brother. Soon he was performing again, and later began recording with Tally Records. The Bakersfield Sound was developing in the area as a reaction against the over-produced honky tonk of the Nashville Sound. Haggard's first song was "Skid Row". In 1962, Haggard wound up performing at a Wynn Stewart show in Las Vegas and heard Wynn's "Sing a Sad Song". He asked for permission to record it, and the resulting single was a national hit in 1964. The following year he had his first national top ten record with "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers", written by Liz Anderson (mother of country singer Lynn Anderson) and his career was off and running. 1966 saw his first number one song "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive", also written by Liz Anderson, which Haggard acknowledges in his autobiography remains his most popular number with audiences.
By the 1970s, Haggard was aligned with the growing outlaw country movement, and has continued to release successful albums through the 1990s and into the 2000s. In 1997, Merle Haggard was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame for his song "Okie from Muskogee".
Haggard was married five times, first to Leona Hobbs from 1956 to 1964. They had four children: Dana, Marty (b. June 18, 1958), Kelli, Noel (b. Sept. 4, 1963). They divorced and in 1965 he married singer Bonnie Owens; they divorced in 1978. Haggard married a third time in 1978 to Leona Williams and they were divorced in 1983. In 1985 Haggard married Debbie Parret, but they divorced in 1991. He married his current wife, Theresa Ann Lane, on September 11, 1993. They have two children, Jenessa and Ben.