Genre: Country

Hometown: Bakersfield, CA

Certified Artist Developer: Antonio Molinaro

Merle Haggard

Merle Ronald Haggard (April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016) was an American country singer, songwriter, guitarist, and fiddler. Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band the Strangers helped create the Bakersfield sound, which is characterized by the twang of Fender Telecaster and the unique ... read more >


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Django and Jimmie marked Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard's sixth album collaboration. Nelson announced its completion during an appearance on Jimmy Kimmel Live! at South by Southwest festival on March 20, 2015. The release of the first single, "It's All Going to Pot" was set for April 20 (420 day). Produced by Buddy Cannon, the album features fourteen tracks by Nelson and Haggard. The song "Django and Jimmie" is a tribute to musicians Django Reinhardt and Jimmie Rodgers. Cannon forwarded the title-track to Haggard and Nelson separately. Both were interested by the song, and had talked in previous years about recording a new collaboration album. The preproduction of the album took eighteen months. The parties involved discussed the type of material they wanted to include in the album and co-wrote some of the songs by talking on the telephone. The entire album was recorded in three days. It features a guest appearance by Bobby Bare on the tribute song "Missing Ol' Johnny Cash". The release of the album was announced for June 2, 2015.

After a troubled youth that saw him in and out of youth reformatories, Haggard was finally sent to Bakersfield jail for a bungled robbery and, after an escape attempt, transferred to San Quentin prison on February 21, 1958. He was released in 1960. By 1967, he was on the cusp of country stardom when he hit number one on the country singles chart with the Liz Anderson composition "I'm A Lonesome Fugitive." Understandably, Haggard was concerned about the effect his time in prison might have on his career but, as Daniel Cooper writes in the liner notes to the 1994 box set Down Every Road, it had little effect at all: "It's unclear when or where Merle first acknowledged to the public that his prison songs were rooted in personal history, for to his credit, he doesn't seem to have made some big splash announcement. In a May 1967 profile in Music City News, his prison record is never mentioned. But in July 1968, in the very same publication, it's spoken of as if it were common knowledge."[citation needed] Haggard would be legally pardoned for his past crimes by California's Governor Ronald Reagan in 1971.

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