Country Legend Merle Haggard Dead On His Birthday
Merle Haggard Dead On His 79th Birthday
Country music legend Merle Haggard, who was known for hits like “Okie From Muskogee” and “Mama Tried,” died on his 79th birthday. Haggard had battled several bouts of pneumonia in recent months, which forced him to cancel concerts.
Born outside of Bakersfield, California, in 1937, Haggard, the son of Oklahoma migrants, was raised in a converted railway boxcar, the only home his family could afford. Famous for his prison stint in San Quentin, Haggard said music was his only opportunity out of poverty.
“My decisions have been easy,” he said. “It was either back in the cotton patch or go to work in the oil fields. … They didn’t compare with music. I was able to make more money in a beer joint when I first started than I was digging ditches.”
The gruff, baritone-voiced singer became known for his classic tunes about drifters, convicts and blue collar workers, including “Workin’ Man Blues.” But he said back in 2014 that after writing some 700 songs, it’s hard to find a subject he hasn’t written about yet.Haggard had lung surgery after a cancer diagnosis in 2008, and he said an early, but incorrect, diagnosis had him thinking he had only a short time to live.
The star told the Associated Press in 2014 of the earlier misdiagnosis, “It was sort of a disappointment. I was ready to go.”
– Fox News