Born in 1937 in Bakersfield, California, Merle Ronald Haggard spent much of his childhood as a runaway in and out of boarding schools. His early adulthood was no better, as he regularly did jail time for small-time crimes committed between sporadic performances at local bars and clubs. In 1957, he was arrested for burglary and spent a roguish three years in prison including a stint in solitary confinement.
After his release, Merle got a gig in Las Vegas playing bass for Wynn Stewart. In 1962, Merle was signed to a small local label, Tally Records and his 4th single for Tally, "(My Friends are Gonna Be) Strangers," reached Billboard's Top Ten and soon Haggard had his 1st major label deal with Capitol.
"Strangers" became the title of the first of his almost 70 solo albums. Add in landmark collaborations with the likes of Willie Nelson, Porter Wager, Bob Wills and many others, as well as numerous soundtracks, reissues, and compilations, and the number of Haggard releases doubles.
A singer, writer, guitarist and fiddler, Merle Haggard has scored 38 #1 songs including his legendary "Today I Started Loving You Again," which has been covered by nearly 400 other artists.
Merle is a Grammy-winning member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The CMA and the ACM have named him Entertainer of the Year two times each. At his concerts, Merle Haggard is as likely to perform his favorite songs from Jimmie Rodgers and Bob Wills as well as his own classics such as the politically charged, "Okie from Muskogee."
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