Juli Thanki The Tennessean Published 12:33 PM EDT Sep 20, 2019 Editor’s note: This story was originally published online on April 6, 2016, at Tennessean.com. Merle Haggard, the working man’s poet, an architect of the Bakersfield Sound and a fiercely independent artist who influenced country music like few others, died Wednesday in California, surrounded by friends and family. He had just turned 79 and had been in failing health for some time, leading to the diagnosis of double pneumonia and subsequent cancellation of several concert dates, including two nights at the Ryman Auditorium that were originally scheduled for March. Over the length of his half-century career, Mr. Haggard recorded 38 No. 1 country singles and wrote some of the genre’s most revered classics, which have been recorded by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, The Byrds, Vince Gill, The Grateful Dead and countless others. “Merle Haggard’s reach knew no bounds,” said Jay Orr, a historian at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Orr also noted that Mr. Haggard so embodied country music that the museum’s core exhibit, “Sing Me Back Home,” takes its title from a chart-topping song he released in 1968. Mr. Haggard’s life, which took him from a San Quentin prison cell to the Country… Read full this story
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