Merle Haggard's life reads like a tattered paperback - a child of the Great Depression, fatherless at 9, a rebellious youth, a life of crime, a 15 year sentence in San Quentin, incorrigible until he embraced music, turning out to be one of the most successful and influential country music stars of all time. Born in Oklahoma but a child of Bakersfield, California, Merle Haggard fell in love with country music, especially that by Bob Willis, Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams. At 12 years old, he was given his first guitar and taught himself to play, and his relationship with music redeemed a life fraught with sheer wild rebellion. A slew of charges eventually landed him in San Quentin, where he slowly turned his life around; when he emerged in 1960 after only 3 years he embraced a life-long career in music. With themes of jail, betrayal and nomadic wondering prevalent throughout his tunes, he speaks for the working man. Merle Haggard changed the face of country music and remains a revered and legendary figure today.
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