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Music country singer, guitarist and songwriter Merle Haggard pictures (pic) and photo gallery, albums covers pictures.
Birth name: Merle Ronald Haggard.
Also known as: The Hag.
Born: April 6, 1937 Bakersfield, California, USA.
Spouse(s):
-Theresa Ann Lane (11 September 1993 - present) they have two children.
-Debbie Parret (1 June 1985 - 1991) (divorced).
-Leona Williams (7 October 1978 - 1983) (divorced).
-Bonnie Owens (28 January 1968 - 1978) (divorced).
-Leona Hobbs (1956 - 1964) (divorced) they have four children.

Merle Haggard biography (bio):
Early life:
Haggard was born in Bakersfield, CA. His parents, Flossie Mae Harp and James Francis Haggard, moved from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression; at that time, much of the population of Bakersfield was made up of economic refugees from Oklahoma and surrounding states. Haggard's father died when Merle was 9, and Merle began to rebel against his mother. Authorities put him in a juvenile detention center. Haggard's older brother gave him a guitar when Merle was twelve years old and he taught himself to play. In 1951, Haggard ran away to Texas with a friend but returned that same year and was arrested for truancy and petty larceny. He ran away from the next juvenile detention center to which he was sent and went to Modesto, California. He worked odd jobs - legal and not - and made his performing debut at a bar. Once he was found again, he was sent to the Preston School of Industry, a high-security installation. Shortly after he was released, 15 months later, Haggard was sent back after beating a local boy during a burglary attempt.
After his second release, Haggard saw Lefty Frizzell in concert with his friend Bob Teague and sang a couple of songs for him. Lefty was so impressed, he allowed Haggard to sing at the concert. The audience loved Haggard, and he began working on a full-time music career. After earning a local reputation, Haggard's money problems caught up with him, and he was arrested for a robbery in 1957. He was sent to prison in San Quentin for 15 years. Even in prison, Haggard was wild, running a gambling and brewing racket from his cell. Merle attended three of Johnny Cash's concerts at San Quentin. Cash inspired Haggard to straighten up and pursue his singing. Several years later, at another Cash concert, Haggard came up to Johnny and told him "I certainly enjoyed your show at San Quentin." Cash said "Merle, I don't remember you bein' in that show." Merle Haggard said, "Johnny, I wasn't in that show, I was in the audience." While put in solitary confinement, Haggard encountered author and death row inmate Caryl Chessman. Haggard had the opportunity to escape with a fellow inmate nicknamed "Rabbit", but passed on it. The inmate successfully escaped, only to shoot a police officer and return to San Quentin for execution. Chessman's predicament along with Rabbit's inspired Haggard to turn his life around, and he soon earned his high school equivalency diploma, kept a steady job in the prison's textile plant and played in the prison's band. He was released in 1960 and in March 1972 was pardoned by then California governor Ronald Reagan. Once released, 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 feeling he'd ever had.

Country success:
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.
Haggard released a series of successful singles in the early 1960s, including "Just Between the Two of Us" (duet with Bonnie Owens) and "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers", both songs written by Liz Anderson. He then signed to Capitol Records and released "I'm Gonna Break Every Heart I Can" to limited sales. In 1966, however, his second Capitol single, "Swinging Doors", was a Top Five hit and Haggard had become a nationally known superstar. During the late 1960s, Haggard's chart success was consistent and impressive. "The Bottle Let Me Down", "The Fugitive", "Branded Man", "Mama Tried", "Sing Me Back Home", "Hungry Eyes," "The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde", "I Threw Away the Rose", and "Cory Gazaway plays 2nd base for Carney Oklahoma" are among the more well-remembered titles. "Mama Tried" and "Killer's Three Theme", sung by Merle, were part of the soundtrack to the 1968 film Killers Three, which also included Haggard's acting debut.
In 1968, Haggard's first tribute LP Same Train, Different Time: A Tribute to Jimmie Rodgers, was released to great acclaim.
"Okie From Muskogee", 1969's apparent political statement, was actually written as an abjectly humorous character portrait. Haggard called the song a "documentation of the uneducated that lived in America at the time." (Phipps 2001). He said later on the Bob Edwards Show that "I wrote it when I recently got out of the joint. I knew what it was like to lose my freedom, and I was getting really mad at these protestors. They didn't know anything more about the war in Vietnam than I did. I thought how my dad, who was from Oklahoma, would have felt. I felt I knew how those boys fighting in Vietnam felt." Later, Alabama Gov. George Wallace asked Haggard for an endorsement, which Haggard declined. However, Haggard does express sympathy with the "parochial" or conservative way of life expressed in "Okie" and songs such as "The Fightin' Side of Me" (ibid). It should be noted, however, that after "Okie" was released, Haggard wanted to release a self-penned song entitled "Irma Jackson" about an interracial couple; the single was quashed by his record company, although Tony Booth went on to record it in 1970.
Regardless of exactly how they were intended, "Okie From Muskogee", "The Fightin' Side of Me", and "I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am" were hailed as anthems of the silent majority and presaged a trend in patriotic songs that would reappear years later with Charlie Daniels' "In America", Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA", and others. But other Haggard songs were appreciated regardless of politics: the Grateful Dead began performing Haggard's tune "Mama Tried" in 1969, and it stayed in their regular repertoire thereafter; singer-activist Joan Baez, whose political leanings couldn't be more different from those expressed in Haggard's above-referenced songs, nonetheless covered "Sing Me Back Home" and "Mama Tried" in 1969. The Everly Brothers also used both songs in their 1968 country-rock album Roots.
Haggard's next LP was A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (Or My Salute to Bob Wills), which helped spark a revival of western swing.
In 1972, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan gave Haggard a full pardon for his past crimes. Haggard often quips that few figures in history can become public enemy No. 1 and man of the year in the same 10-year period.
During the early to mid 1970s, Haggard's chart domination continued with songs like "Someday We'll Look Back", "Carolyn", "Grandma Harp", "Always Wanting You" and "The Roots of My Raising". He also wrote and performed the theme song to the TV series Movin' On, which gave him a further top-ten country hit. The 1973 recession anthem "If We Make It Through December" furthered Haggard's status as a champion of the working class.
Haggard was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977.

Later years:
"If We Make It Through December" turned out to be Haggard's last pop hit. He published an autobiography called Sing Me Back Home. Although he won a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for 1984's a new kind of honky tonk had begun to overtake country music, and singers like George Strait and Randy Travis had taken over the charts. Haggard's last No. 1 hit was "Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star" from his smash album Chill Factor in 1988.
Although he has been outspoken in his dislike for modern country music, he has praised newer stars such as George Strait and Randy Travis. The Dixie Chicks paid him tribute by recording Darrell Scott's song "Long Time Gone", which criticizes Nashville trends: "We listen to the radio to hear whats cookin / But the music aint got no soul / Now they sound tired but they dont sound Haggard," with the following lines mentioning Johnny Cash and Hank Williams in the same vein.
In 2000, Haggard made a comeback of sorts, signing with the independent record label Anti and releasing the spare If I Could Only Fly to critical acclaim. He followed it in 2001 with Roots, Vol. 1, a collection of Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams and Hank Thompson covers, along with three Haggard originals. The album, recorded in Haggard's living room with no overdubs, featured Haggard's longtime bandmates The Strangers as well as Frizzell's original lead guitarist, Norman Stephens.
In December 2004, Haggard spoke at length on Larry King Live about his incarceration as a young man and said it was "hell" and "the scariest experience of my life."
In October 2005, Haggard released his newest album, "Chicago Wind", to mostly positive reviews. The album contained an anti-Iraq war song entitled "America First," in which he laments the nation's economy and faltering infrastructure, applauds its soldiers, and sings, "Let's get out of Iraq, and get back on track."
In 2006, Haggard was back on the radio, in a duet with Gretchen Wilson, "Politically Uncorrect". He also featured on "Pledge Allegiance to the Hag" on Eric Church's debut album.
On April 24, 2006 Haggard's former wife Bonnie Owens died in Bakersfield, CA due to Alzheimer's disease. She was 76.
On December 19, 2006, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved a citizen led resolution to re-name a portion of 7th Standard Road in Oildale "Merle Haggard Drive." Merle Haggard Drive will stretch from North Chester Avenue west to Highway 99. The first street travelers will turn onto when they leave the new airport terminal will be Merle Haggard Drive. The name change, however is conditional in that $41,100 be raised by private funds to pay for the new road signs that will go up on county surface streets and along Highway 99. Haggard's Oildale home, made from a converted box car, is still lived in just south of Norris Road.
Haggard is working on a bluegrass album, which is due for release in 2007.
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Merle Haggard - Last of the Breed album cover
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