R.I.P. Merle Haggard, country legend dead at 79
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.