Remembering Merle Haggard: Five Top Songs

Haggard was born on this day in 1937, and died on this day in 2016

Music legend Merle Haggard was born on this day in 1937—and died on this day in 2016, at age 79 due to complications from pneumonia. Through his sterling music, including “Today I Started Loving You Again,” “Silver Wings,” “The Bottle Let Me Down,” and many others, Haggard became one of the most influential singer-songwriters in country music.

He served a nearly three-year stint in San Quentin before being paroled in 1960. Five years later, he released his first album, Strangers, and earned his first Top 10 country hit with “(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers.” In 1967, he earned his first No. 1 country hit with “The Fugitive.”

Haggard went on to earn more than 30 No. 1 hits, and was named the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year honor in 1970. He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994, earned a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, and a Kennedy Center Honor in 2010.

In celebration of Haggard’s life and indelible musical contributions, we look a just a few of his most impactful songs.

“Mama Tried”

A solo write from Haggard, this four-week No. 1 hit was featured in the 1968 film Killers Three, which Haggard starred in. In the stark song, he minces no words about the pain that his rebellious childhood must have caused his mother, in lyrics such as Mama tried to raise me better, But her pleadin’ I denied, That leaves only me to blame ’cause mama tried

The song earned a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1999.

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