Merle Haggard

A generation removed from being Oklahoma-bred.

Photo courtesy Grande Casino Hotel and Resort.

Photo courtesy Grand Casino Hotel and Resort.

Friday, April 3

Merle Haggard is a storyteller, and he tells his stories through country music. His lyrics, which depict his experiences and views of the world around him, have always been relatable by many. Loyal fans love him not only for the talent and sound he exudes, but also the honesty that’s at the backbone of his music. While Haggard was born in Bakersfield, Calif., his parents spent most of their lives in Checotah, Okla., where his father even played music on Oklahoma stages. At age 9, Haggard’s father passed away, and Haggard spiraled into rebellion. It was getting locked up at San Quentin at 20 years old that gave him the reality check he needed. Loving music since he was young – growing up listening to Bob Wills and Lefty Frizzel, his musical idol – Haggard had a unique talent that was just waiting to be released, and he had endured the life experiences and learned the hard lessons that cause for good music. Seven years after being released, Haggard landed his first No. 1 spot on the charts with “The Fugitive.” That same year, “Sing Me Back Home” topped the charts, with “Mama Tried” doing the same in 1968. It was evident early on that he had a special way of connecting with his fans, and great music followed. In 1969 Haggard gave his fans “Okie From Muskogee,” which would become his signature song. During the late ‘60s, when the Vietnam War drew a divisive line between supporters and non-supports in the United States, Haggard was not only a country star and chart-topper but also a political symbol. Through his entire career, he continued writing music that carried messages he felt passionate about. Some of his greatest hits include “Workin’ Man Blues” (1969), “The Fightin’ Side of Me” (1970), “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink” (1980), “Big City” (1981) and “That’s The Way Love Goes” (1983). While Haggard embodied country music, his music would mingle with other genres here and there to support the story he was trying to tell – evidence of a great musician. In 1994, Haggard was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, and in 1997 he was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, honors well deserved. On Friday, April 3, Haggard will be at Thackerville’s Grand Casino Hotel and Resort, his second out of three shows he’s playing in Oklahoma in April. For more information, visit