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Merle Haggard | via The Tennessean

An icon of country music songwriting, Merle Haggard passed away today at his home near Redding, Ca, his 79th birthday. Known for his ragged country-rock anthems “Mama Tried” and “Okie from Muskogee,” both from his 1969 album Okie from Muskogee, Haggard went on to write and record 40 number one singles – including “I’m a Lonesome Fugitive,” “Hungry Eyes,” “The Roots of My Raising” and “Big City”- many of which were covered by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, The Byrds, and The Grateful Dead.

Haggard was also known for paving the way for The Bakersfield Sound, a strain of country music in opposition to the slickly-produced, lushly orchestrated recordings coming out of Nashville in the 60s. It was more raw, incorporated the twangy Fender Telecaster and found its home in the honky tonk circuit.

According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle, Haggard had suffered from double pneumonia for several months.

Listen to some of his music below.

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