Merle Haggard Has Died On His Birthday At The Age Of 79
April 6, 2016 at 10:36 AM (PT)
ALL ACCESS has confirmed that Country music icon MERLE HAGGARD died TODAY (4/6) after a prolonged bout with double pneumonia and a recurrence of cancer, which he had been battling since DECEMBER. TODAY was also his birthday; he was 79.
Born MERLE RONALD HAGGARD in OILDALE, CALIFORNIA, HAGGARD and his family lived in an old boxcar that they converted into a home. During a stint in SAN QUENTIN for trying to rob a BAKERSFIELD roadhouse, HAGGARD was convinced to turn his life around. Turning to music, HAGGARD joind a Country band in prison. Upon exiting the prison, HAGGARD rose to prominence as a Country singer, songwriter, and instrumentalist as he helped to create and shape the BAKERSFIELD SOUND of the 60s. By the 1970s, HAGGARD was aligned with the ever-growing Outlaw Country movement.
He continued a successful career that included hits such as "Mama Tried," "Workin' Man Blues," "Okie From Muskogee," "The Fightin' Side Of Me," "If We Make It Through December," "I Think I'll Just Stay Here And Drink," and many more, charting 38 number one hits in total. "Mama Tried" is a staple of the GRATEFUL DEAD and is now in the LIBRARY OF CONGRESS.
HAGGARD released more than 35 studio albums throughout his career and earned awards from the ACADEMY OF COUNTRY MUSIC, the COUNTRY MUSIC ASSOCIATION, BMI, the GRAMMYS, and more. HAGGARD was known as "The Poet Of The Working Man." He was inducted into the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME in 1994. He is a member of the NASHVILLE SONGWRITERS HALL OF FAME and was inducted in to the KENNEDY CENTER HONORS in 2010. He was also the COUNTRY RADIO BROADCASTERS Artist Career Achievement Award recipient in 2009.
Friends and fans knew him simply as "HAG." He is survived by his fifth wife, THERESA, and their two children, JENESSA and BEN, along with four children from his first marriage, DANA, MARTY, KELLI, and NOEL.
"Country music has suffered one of the greatest losses it will ever experience," CHARLIE DANIELS shared via TWITTER. "Rest in peace, MERLE HAGGARD." HAG's son, BEN HAGGARD, shared via FACEBOOK, "A week ago, dad told us he was gonna pass on his birthday, and he wasn't wrong. A[n] hour ago, he took his last breath surrounded by family and friends. He loved everything about life, and he loved that everyone of you gave him a chance with his music. He wasn't just a Country singer, he was the best Country singer that ever lived."
No details are currently available regarding services or memorials.