Still holding his mud: A day in the life of ‘struggling’ guitarist Merle Haggard

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That’s the way love goes: Illustrious country music singer-songwriter Merle Haggard strums a road-weary acoustic guitar emblazoned with his “Hag” insignia circa February 20, 2015. Image Credit: Merle Haggard’s official Twitter
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James Haggard, seven-year-old Merle, and family dog Jack pose casually in 1944. Image Credit: The Lillian Haggard Rea Collection

The Merle Haggard Interview

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Outside their Oildale, California, home are James Haggard, wife Flossie, eldest son Lowell, daughter Lillian, and youngest child Merle perched on a tricycle circa 1941. Image Credit: The Lillian Haggard Rea Collection
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Circa 2001, “If We Make It Through December” balladeer Merle Haggard and son Ben — born on December 14, 1992 — play matching Fender Telecaster electric guitars for a magazine profile. Image Credit: Merle Haggard’s official Twitter
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Although Merle Haggard had been battling pneumonia and had to cancel some shows when this candid was posted December 7, 2015, he stubbornly insisted, “Thank you all for your kind words and prayers. This picture speaks for itself on how I’m doing. See y’all soon.” The prolonged infection would overcome the Hag four months later. Photography by Ben Haggard / Merle Haggard’s official Twitter
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Country Music Hall of Famer Merle Haggard opts for some fresh air and scenery outside his road weary tour bus circa October 11, 2015. Photography by Ben Haggard / Merle Haggard’s official Twitter
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Near his Lake Shasta home in northern California, Merle Haggard sports a trademark bucket hat, casual blue jeans, and long sleeve flannel shirt while biking circa March 3, 2013. Photography by Ben Haggard / Merle Haggard’s official Twitter
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Minutes before taking the stage of the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton, Georgia, on July 1, 2015, veteran songwriter Merle Haggard waits patiently outside his customized tour bus. Earlier that year, fellow maverick songwriter Bob Dylan went on record as saying, “I’ve toured with Merle and have the highest regard for him, his songs, his talent — I even wanted him to play fiddle on one of my records and his Jimmie Rodgers tribute album is one of my favorites that I never get tired of listening to. He’s also a bit of a philosopher. He’s serious and he’s funny. He’s a complete man and we’re friends these days. We have a lot in common.” Photography by Hope Baldwin
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The single 45 cover of Merle Haggard and the Strangers’s terrific anthem, “I Take a Lot of Pride in What I Am” b/w “Keep Me from Cryin’ Today,” released on October 14, 1968. The No. 3 Billboard C&W hit was soon effectively covered by Dean Martin. Image Credit: Joel Whitburn’s Record Research / Capitol Records
Incredibly composed while Merle Haggard was walking from his tour bus to a stage somewhere in London, England, click to experience “A Thousand Lies Ago,” ultimately released on the Hag’s final album for Epic Records, “5:01 Blues,” in July 1989. Music + Video Credit: Sony Music Entertainment

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Retro pop culture interviews & lovin’ someone fierce sustain this University of Georgia Master of Agricultural Leadership alum. Email: jeremylr@windstream.net

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