Haggard, Merle Ronald
- Corey J. Murray
Haggard, Merle Ronald (6 Apr. 1937–6 Apr. 2016), country musician, singer, and songwriter, was born in Oildale, California, the son of James Francis Haggard and Flossie Mae Harp, Oklahoma farmers who had fled the Dust Bowl and migrated to California in 1935. Merle’s father worked as a carpenter with the Santa Fe Railroad, and the Haggards’ home was a converted boxcar. When Merle was nine, his father died of a stroke and his mother went to work as a bookkeeper, leaving the boy with little guidance. He was a rebellious youth, constantly skipping school and running away from home. At age ten he hopped his first freight train; at fourteen he and a friend, Bob Teague, hitchhiked to Texas, working odd jobs, visiting an Amarillo brothel, and grappling with the law along the way....