ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Merle Tried

Updated on April 17, 2022
Vista15 profile image

'Music filled my life and wrapped me in fantacy...' and it still does. I live it. I love it.

'A little wrinkle in the right place adds character to a face.' (Jonathan Burden) Hag had a lot of character. He had a lot of love and left a lot of broken hearts... Mine, too


I didn't expect to find inspiration to write about Merle Haggard when I picked up a Decorator Magazine this morning... but this quote from Jonathan Burden, a restoration expert featured in the April issue of Traditional Home... 'A little wrinkle in the right place adds character to a face.' brought Merle to mind immediately, and I knew I had to write about him.

A lot of character that face.

Our National Treasure, Merle Haggard, lost his battle with Pneumonia on his 79th birthday, April 6, 2016.

I am so angry. I was on Facebook when I heard Merle died, from the radio next to me... I posted on I Love Kris Kristofferson... 'Damn Pneumonia. Damn Pneumonia. Damn Pneumonia!'

On my Timeline I wrote 'OMG... We've lost Merle Haggard. Born and Died on April 6. Damn Pneumonia got him.', on a post with the picture above. Then I took it to Image Magick and annotated the dates on it as you see in the photo now. Then I went to my All Country Music page and started a Tribute to Merle that I continued until midnight, April 7.

I Started With This One...

Damn Pneumonia

Merle wanted to live to be 100. He wanted to out-live George Burns.

One of my Hub articles is 'Cure Pneumonia', in which I featured Jack LaLanne and Zig Ziggler who died of Pneumonia. Why haven't we cured this monstrous disease?

In my article I surmised there is no cure for Pneumonia, just a process of elimination. You just keep repeating the process over and over until you work through it. ...or die.

Caregivers don't make patients work to live. Now I'm not saying that's what happened with Merle, but usual proceedures is to deaden pain with sedatives, and keep them comfortable. Well, I didn't have a caregiver, so I had to take care of myself. In doing that, I survived.


This isn't about how Merle died. it's about How he lived!

He tried, you know... Merle Tried.

I think Merle spent the rest of his life trying to atone for his wild youth. You would think he'd have made it by 1970 when he won Entertainer of the Year at the CMA Awards...AND the ACM Awards, as well.... or at least by 1972 when he received a Pardon from the Governor of California, none other than Ronald Reagan who went on to be President of the USA.

I mean, really... he even got inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1994...

And then he received The Kennedy Center Awards in 2010!

He had scores of awards, honors and accolades. I was going to post more, but if these aren't enough, well, really.... who needs to be convinced?

He was a beautiful man and he earned every one of those lines on his face!

And, ironically, it was well near 24 hours after the news of his passing that I heard any reference to his prison time mentioned. None at all... And the first mention was very brief. He'd have been proud.

His own songs, Lonesome Fugitive, Branded Man and Mama Tried, tell the only story that needed to be told... Lonesome Fugitive was his first #1 hit!

Branded Man was #2.

#3 - Sing Me Back Home.

#4 - The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde.

Mama Tried didn't make it until #5.

He had 38 # 1's in all... not to mention a lot that should have been (such as In My Next Life), and many that came close... (Misery and Gin, for example.)

It's obvious the world forgave him... and went on to love him. He was talent, personified.

...and he wasn't hard to look at.

With looks like that, it's not surprising he was married 5 times.

He named his first son, Marty, after Marty Robbins, who Merle admired.

A side story of my own, here... A writer...I have several unfinished novels. One is based on the life of a prisoner, that I named Merle, but then diverted attention away from Haggard by saying his mother named him after Merle Travis, who was popular at his birth. Of course, it's still 'unfinished'.

After Marty, I believe was a girl named Dana, then another daughter, Kelli and son, Noel, all from first wife, Leona Hobbs. There was another Leona, Williams this time, and a Debbie somewhere along the line, and Bonnie Owens, who I believe he actually married twice.She kept the stage name Owens, having previously been married to Buck Owens. She was Merle's back-up singer even long after the (second) divorce.

He married his current wife, Theresa, in 1993 and subsequently had 2 children with her, Jenessa and Ben.

[I also found scuttlebutt while researching this writing, of a Scott Haggard, who was born to a woman named Lanorah Margaret Bowden, in around 1968, who Merle did not marry.]

Marty Haggard
Marty Haggard
Noel Haggard
Noel Haggard
Dana Haggard, probably with her husband.
Dana Haggard, probably with her husband.
Kelli Haggard, probably center with her children.
Kelli Haggard, probably center with her children.
Hilary Williams, Merle, Jenessa Haggard, Holly Williams, Miranda Lambert and Katie Williams.  (Williams girls are daughters of Hank Williams, Jr.)
Hilary Williams, Merle, Jenessa Haggard, Holly Williams, Miranda Lambert and Katie Williams. (Williams girls are daughters of Hank Williams, Jr.)
Ben Haggard
Ben Haggard
Scott Haggard
Scott Haggard

Well, I've presented them all...and leave it to your discretion whether or not Scott might have been a son...and as you see, all the boys are musicians... Ben having been the lead guitarist in his Father's band.

A Class Act

Merle was a class act, all right. In my own observation, when he was on stage with Kris Kristofferson, as Kris was singing, he sat on a stool, off-side, sort of, and watched him perform. Yet, when he was singing, Kris harmonized with him on every song. And they did a couple together... but the finale`, was different. Merle kicked off with Why Me, then let Kris finish it. When you think of all the #1 hits Merle had, he gave Kris the spotlight on his ONLY #1. That's class.

Here's More Class

Merle was appreciative of other people's talent. One such was Tommy Collins, who he wrote a song about, calling it Leonard, ...'if just to see the smiling faces in the band'... The song, of course, tells the story of Leonard Sipes, the name Tommy never used.

Tommy Collins was born Leonard Raymond Sipes on September 28, 1930 and died March 14, 2000, at age 69.

While Merle's song says he came to hang a gold one on the wall, I'm not sure what song he might be referring to. He did have a hit on a song recorded by Faron Young in 1954 and again by George Strait in 1988, If You Ain't Lovin' (You Ain't Livin').

However, it turns out he wrote my favorite Hag song ~ Carolyn, and a song I'd have sworn Merle wrote, The Roots of My Raisin'.

January 26, 2014 - 56th Grammy Awards

Willie, Merle and Kris
Willie, Merle and Kris

On January 26, 2014, Haggard performed his 1969 song "Okie from Muskogee" at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards along with Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson, and Blake Shelton.(not pictured) You see son, Ben, in background,

He wasn't done yet...

Remember Pancho and Lefty? Well, this one will rival that...Django and Jimmie.

Released in June, 2014. This will be the one to buy!

Merle and Theresa
Merle and Theresa

24 Years...

'I don't think she knows how much I love her.'

And I heard him say that in an interview... not something that was written. So, it's safe to say, he had a good marriage with his wife,Teresa. He was happy.

This is the photo Ben posted on his Facebook page announcing his Dad died.

I stumbled across the meaning of the tattoo on Merle's arm. It stood for Preston School of Industry, a reform school Merle had been in. I never knew of this tattoo, and when you see pictures of Merle performing, it never shows, because he's holding his guitar with that left hand.

The Hag


Yes, Merle was a Branded Man. His Brand was The Hag.

His number was Number One!

Tiana Dreymor

April 11, 2016


More on Merle


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)