Country music legend Merle Haggard died today, on his 79th birthday. According to his manager, he died after battling double pneumonia and had previously cancelled all of his April concerts to recover.
Rising to country stardom in the 1960s, Haggard’s songwriting and appeal helped shape the honky-tonk country landscape. He was called the Poet of the Common Man in response to his lyrics reflecting everything from hard working blue collar values to up tempo drinking songs perfect for a rowdy bar.
A young Merle Haggard spent three years at San Quentin for a robbery charge and recalls seeing Johnny Cash playing the prison in 1958 being a source of musical inspiration.
He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994.