The moment Merle Haggard started his country music career back in 1963, he decided not to give a sh**.
This country star has been writing music for decades – he’s a leader and an icon, and he earned the respect of all. Haggard proved himself to be a country star through his involvement with the outlaw movement back in the 1970s. His achievements already earned him an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame by 1994.
But this is all somewhat besides the point. Merle Haggard is not only a hero of the masses because of his talent and musical genius, but also because he simply did not give a sh**!
We have put together a list of the top 7 occasions where Merle Haggard was really a total and absolute badass.
7. That Moment Johnny Cash Found Haggard Copying Him – But The HAG Couldn’t Care Less!
Haggard was known to perform an impression or two, and he was known for doing them well. He proved this when he appeared on The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour and performed impressions of Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, and Buck Owen. Owen arrived to surprise Haggard during his act and persuaded him to do a Johnny Cash. What Haggard didn’t know was that Cash was there as well! Of course, it was a huge success that entertained everyone! Enjoy that performance below.
6. The Moment He Had A Duet With Clint Eastwood – And Became A Chart Topper!
While Haggard’s most famous duet mate is Willie Nelson, he had something of a duet-affair with Clint Eastwood in 1980, when the two of them sang a song together for the soundtrack of the film Bronco Billy. The song is called “Bar Room Buddies,” and it was a chart topper on the Billboard country charts, which made it Haggard’s 25th No. 1.
5. That Time He Beat Cancer
In May 2008, Haggard was diagnosed with lung cancer, but he didn’t want to tell everyone right away. Haggard kept the secret for months until – in November 2008 – he underwent surgery to remove the tumor from his lung. After this he announced his condition, and only a couple of month later, he delivered the fantastic news that he was cancer free.
4. That Time He Went Off At A Recording Executive Because He Fired Johnny Cash
In 1986, Johnny Cash was fired from his recording company and, even 23 years after, Haggard was not willing to overlook it. During a 2009 event, Haggard was graced with a career accomplishment award from Country Radio Broadcasters. He made use of his acknowledgement speech to tell off Rick Blackburn, who had been the one to fire Cash from his label.
That evening, Emmylou Harris performed Haggard’s song “Kern River” and then he shared a narrative of Blackburn not enjoying the tune in any way. Haggard informed the crowd that Blackburn said, “I’d like to inform you once more. I don’t like ‘Kern River.’ And That I said, ‘That’s about the third time you’ve said that to me.’ He stated, ‘It’s a lot more like five times.’ And then I said, ‘Well, I’m about five times short of letting you know to go visit hell.’”
He then questioned Blackburn,“Just who do you really think you might be? You’re the son-of-a-bitch that seated at that office over there and even terminated Johnny Cash. History will remember that you’re the dumbest son-of-a-bitch I’ve ever met.”
3. Those Moments He Busted Out Of Jail – 17 Times!
Haggard endured a challenging upbringing, which in turn resulted in some rebellious behavior on his part. He had been charged with theft, writing fake checks and a lot more. He wound up in prison lots of times, but in an interview with Vanity Fair, he revealed that he also escaped from prison a lot of times. Before the age of 19, he had fled from jail as many as 17 times. They had to move him to San Quentin Prison because Merle Haggard might as well have been Harry Houdini.
2. That Moment He Watched Johnny Cash’s Performance In Prison
Once Haggard was released from jail and had become a country superstar, he eventually officially met Johnny Cash – inside a men’s restroom at a TV station. Haggard reminisced with Cash about his earlier performance at San Quentin, and Cash stated, “I don’t recall you performing during that show, Merle.” Haggard enlightened him that he had not been performing – he had been in the crowd! Cash’s performance inspired Haggard to make up for his actions and turn into a country artist.
1. That Moment When All Of His Crimes Were Pardoned By RONALD REAGAN
Since Haggard had an extremely lengthy rap sheet, it had been a challenge to get his offenses and also escapes pardoned. For twelve years following his release, he tried and tried, to absolutely no avail. In 1972, then-California Governor Ronald Reagan pardoned Haggard for all those past crimes. In an interview with CMT, Haggard explained, “He didn’t really have to do it in anyway. He might well have just snubbed his nose and carried on with lunch.”
A decade later, Reagan had been elected President of the United States and Haggard performed at a concert in celebration. “I hope the President is going to be as happy with my performance today as I had been with his pardon a decade back”.