Merle Haggard was, for me, the undisputed king of the Bakersfield sound.
Merle Haggard, one of the most successful singers in the history of country music, a contrarian populist whose songs about his scuffling early life and his time in prison made him the closest thing that the genre had to a real-life outlaw hero, died at his home in California, on Wednesday, his 79th birthday. . .
Mr. Haggard had an immense influence on other performers — not just other country singers but also ’60s rock bands like the Byrds and the Grateful Dead, as well as acts like Elvis Costello and the Mekons, all of whom recorded Mr. Haggard’s songs. Some 400 artists have released versions of his 1968 hit “Today I Started Loving You Again.”
He was always the outsider. His band was aptly named the Strangers.