Amoeba Music is a proud sponsor of SFJAZZ's concert with country music legend Merle Haggard on Friday, December 4th at Oakland's Paramount Theatre.
GRAMMY-winning guitarist, fiddler, and vocalist Merle Haggard has enjoyed a 50-year career as a giant of American songwriting and early originator of the California-bred take on country music called “the Bakersfield Sound.” It was the honky-tonk style of Lefty Frizzell and the Western swing of Bob Wills & his Texas Playboys that first reached the young Haggard when his brother gave his battered guitar to the twelve-year-old as a gift, and it remained a constant as the troubled youth bounced from juvenile detention to jail.
An inmate at San Quentin prison in 1958, Haggard attended Johnny Cash’s first-ever prison performance, which was the inspiration for Haggard to finally clean up his act for good and embrace music as a path to turn his life around. The momentous career that followed saw Haggard inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994. He has recorded 38 songs that have hit #1 on the Billboard country chart, including the classics “Mama Tried,” “Okie from Muskogee,” “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” and “Pancho and Lefty” with fellow country legend Willie Nelson. His songs have been recorded by the likes of the Grateful Dead, Dean Martin, Joan Baez, and Gram Parsons, and he was named a Kennedy Center honoree in 2010.