Merle Haggard – Happy Birthday and So Long
Merle Ronald Haggard (April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016) He looked a bit like Burt Reynolds in his youth and a lot like Charles Bukowski in his old age. He did everything a country star of the 60’s was meant to do. He drank, he smoked and fought. He spent some time in San Quentin where he got in trouble for running a liquor and gambling operation. Had 6 or 7 kids and 5 wives. Along with Buck Owens (he married his former wife), Haggard and his band The Strangers helped create the Bakersfield Sound (characterized by the twangy Fender Telecaster and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville recordings of the same era).
In 2006, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. Haggard was also honored as a BMI Icon at the 54th annual BMI Pop Awards in 2006. During his songwriting career up to that time, Haggard had earned 48 BMI Country Awards, nine BMI Pop Awards, a BMI R&B Award, and 16 BMI “Million-Air” awards, all from a catalog of songs that added up to over 25 million performances.