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Subject: ARCHIVE: April 6, 2016 ~Merle Haggard, country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler, helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the twang of the Fender Telecaster and harmony, earning 38 number-one hits on the US country charts, dies at his home in California's Shasta County on his 79th birthday, and interred on his estate. ...
American country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band the Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the twang of the Fender Telecaster mixed with the sound of the steel guitar, 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.
Haggard was born in Oildale, California, during the Great Depression. His childhood was troubled after the death of his father, and he was incarcerated several times in his youth. After being released from San Quentin State Prison in 1960, he managed to turn his life around and launch a successful country music career, gaining popularity with his songs about the working class that occasionally contained themes contrary to the prevailing anti-Vietnam War sentiment of much popular music of the time. Between the 1960s and the 1980s, he had 38 number-one hits on the US country charts, several of which also made the Billboard all-genre singles chart. Haggard continued to release successful albums into the 2000s.
He received many honors and awards for his music, including a Kennedy Center Honor (2010), a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (2006), a BMI Icon Award (2006), and induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1977), Country Music Hall of Fame (1994) and Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame (1997). He died on April 6, 2016 — his 79th birthday — at his ranch in Shasta County, California, having recently suffered from double pneumonia.
Haggard's last recording, a song called "Kern River Blues," described his departure from Bakersfield in the late 1970s and his displeasure with politicians. The song was recorded February 9, 2016, and features his son Ben on guitar. This record was released on May 12, 2016.