Farewell To The Great Merle Haggard

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Merle Haggard - Photo: UMG Nashville
Photo: courtesy of UMG Nashville

The lonesome fugitive has left us. The death was announced today, on his 79th birthday of 6 April, of the truly great Merle Haggard. His manager, Frank Mull, said that the country music pioneer passed away from pneumonia, at his home in Pala Cedro, California.

Haggard, born on 6 April, 1937 in Bakersfield, California, became an iconic representative of an almost bygone country age, even as he had continued to battle poor health in recent times with an unrelenting concert schedule.

But Merle was an often outspoken representative of working class values, with a celebrated criminal record, serving time in San Quentin prison in the late 1950s for a burglary conviction. Okie From MuskogeeHis biggest crossover hit, 1969’s ‘Okie From Muskogee,’ was a diatribe against liberal values and those who protested about American involvement in the Vietnam War.

Between 1963 and 1999, Haggard placed an extraordinary 104 songs on the US country chart, and had a US country album chart No. 1 only last June, when his collaboration with longtime friend Willie Nelson, Django & Jimmie, went to the top and reached the top ten of the Billboard pop chart.

The FugitiveMerle had a spectacular 38 No. 1 country singles, starting with ‘The Fugitive’ in March, 1967. Between 1971 and 1976, all but one of his entries on that chart went to No. 1, a ranking he last enjoyed in 1988 with ‘Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star.’

Tributes to Haggard have been rapidly gathering on social media. Brad Paisley commented: “There are no words to describe the loss & sorrow felt within all of music with the passing of Merle Haggard. Thank God for his life & songs.” Darius Rucker wrote: “Heaven’s band just got better…your music will never die,” while the Grand Ole Opry’s Twitter account said: “Thank you, Merle, for changing the landscape of country music.” Ringo Starr observed: “God bless Merle  Haggard peace and love to all his family. Merle was a hero of mine.”

Country star Suzy Bogguss did much to champion Haggard’s legend, notably with her excellent 2014 album of interpretations of his songs, Lucky. In the immediate wake of Merle’s passing, she gave uDiscover her thoughts about his contribution to country music and the effect he had on her life.

“I will just say that I have been listening to Merle since I was nine years old,”  said Bogguss. “I have never felt any music that I have felt more connected too. I can’t even fathom how many people Merle’s music moved.

“The genuine emotion in his songs speaks to the human spirit. It’s as if he was saying ‘I feel like this, and perhaps you do too.’ Only he knew how to put it out there for us. So thankful we have his lifelong work to return to when we need it.”

Format: Union Jack flagUK English


  1. Lionel Guillory

    April 6, 2016 at 10:38 pm

    May the good Lord welcome you

  2. Naomi Rennerfeldt

    April 6, 2016 at 11:13 pm

    May you rest in peace Mr. Haggard as you soar with the rest of the angels in Heaven. You are one of the greatest legends there ever was!!

  3. linda mills

    April 6, 2016 at 11:28 pm

    I can image all those singers and actors and lovely people having a ball up in heaven.

  4. Jim MacClellan

    April 7, 2016 at 12:05 am

    There you went and did it again. Sang your songs, left the stage to a final tip of your
    hat. Gosh darn, we got all your songs, to bring you under the bright lights just one more
    \time. Gonna miss you HAG

  5. Judy Cleveland

    April 7, 2016 at 12:13 am

    I grew up with with country music . Merle Haggard’s,Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, George Jones, Hank Williams Sr. and so many. many more great ones who brought music to the forefront . We have watched them leave one by one . I know those still here will be among all who send our Condolences to Merle’s family. Creator Father comfort and bless Merle’s family,friends, compadres, and fans Amen!

  6. Shirley Bulva

    April 7, 2016 at 12:13 am

    Farewell Merle Haggard. ..
    You were One of the Greats. ..
    Soar With Those Silver Wings…..
    With Love;
    Your Fans from Alberta; Canada.

  7. Rick Turner

    April 7, 2016 at 12:40 am

    RIP Hag! I know Hank Sr, Ray .Price, Bob Wills & Tommy Duncan and all other great troubadours are happy to welcome you home. God bless and keep you and console your family and your legion of fans world wide!

  8. patrick

    April 7, 2016 at 2:25 am

    the ogie from moscogie( excuse the spelling) has gone home. R.I P, my friend, god bless.

  9. Wanda Sites

    April 7, 2016 at 2:55 am

    My husband truly enjoyed his music, had never gotten to see him and was planning to see him in Charles Town WV in may

  10. Linda

    April 7, 2016 at 3:05 am

    We will miss u RIP

  11. john

    April 7, 2016 at 9:12 am

    he was truly a great singer R.i.P merle will miss him

  12. Sylvia Long

    April 7, 2016 at 3:32 pm

    Sorry for the family and he will be missed by his fans.True country music entertainer.

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