Haggard Recruits Personal Hero to Record

Merle Haggard’s next album, Roots, Vol. 1, features his hero, guitarist Norm Stephens, who played on a number of Lefty Frizzell recordings including “If You’ve Got the Money I’ve Got the Time” and “I Love You a Thousand Ways.” Stephens has been retired from music for years, and Haggard recently discovered that they have lived near each other in California for a long time. Haggard’s pianist, Doug Colosio, noticed a classified ad Stephens placed in a local paper and called it to his boss’s attention. “It was an amazing situation, totally accidental,” the country legend explains in the album’s press materials. “Norm was one of the two or three guitar players that I’ve styled my playing after. I always wondered what happened to him — it’s like he dropped through the cracks.” Recorded in Haggard’s home, the album features Stephens with Haggard’s band, The Strangers, romping through three new Haggard originals and songs by Frizzell, Hank Williams and Hank Thompson. Anti/Epitaph Records releases the CD Nov. 9. 08/24/01