“THE HAG” – By Des Kelly

Quite possibly, one of the best know names in “Country Music”, certainly, one of my top favourites, he was a Songwriter, Singer, fiddle-player, and guitarist, all in one, and, like so many other great Country Icons of America, had a tough life, not only before he became a “Star”, but even after~ when many pretty young ladies (he married five of them), gave him a hard time, trying to keep him toeing the line, which he refused to do, even when it was for his own good. I have always admired Merle Haggard, God rest his Soul, as he died exactly 79 years after he was born, he passed on to the old Opry in the sky, on his 79th birthday.

          There are definitely many more amazing things about this guy, who will always be fondly remembered as “Hag”, that the general public did not know, but “WAKE-UP” folks, 

here are yet another ELEVEN!!. 

Desmond Kelly.
 “Editor-in-Chief)– eLanka

Merle Haggard: 11 Things You Didn’t Know About the Country Legend 

Source:-WideOpenCountry

Merle-Haggard

Merle Haggard is undoubtedly one of the greatest country musicians of all time. Following an incredible career marked by number one hits, successful collaborations with artists like George Jones, and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, his name with forever be listed among the genre’s greats. Known for challenging mainstream Nashville with his iconic Bakersfield Sound, the Hag always pushed the limits and stayed true to himself, from his very first top 10 hit, “(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers” to 2015’s Django & Jimmie with Willie Nelson. He’s a true American legend.

Here are 11 things you might have not known about country music’s beloved Merle Haggard.

1. His singing career was inspired by Johnny Cash

 

Haggard was an inmate of San Quentin Prison in California when he was 20 years old and saw Johnny Cash perform. He had been in and out of jail for a slew of crimes and was currently serving a 15-year sentence. (He really did turn 21 in prison.) After an early release in 1960, Haggard got straight to work and recorded his first top 20 hit on the Billboard chart within three years. In a lost interview published by Rolling Stone, Haggard describes the friendship they built over the years.

“We were always humorous with each other. I criticized him one time for something he did, and he answered me, ‘Haggard, you have the ugliest face in country music.’ We had that kind of sense of humor back then. But later I missed a couple of dates out in Oregon when I was 49 years old, and he and June called me and said, What’s the matter, Haggard, did you get ahold of some bad dope?’ I said, “No.” He said, “What’s the matter?” I said, ‘I’m 49 years old, Cash. I’m fixin’ to turn 50.’ He said, ‘Oh, my God. I wound up in rehab when I turned 50. I totally understand.’ … He helped me every time he had a chance to help me, and I would have done the same for him.”

Pam Tillis

2. He was born in a boxcar

During the Great Depression, Haggard’s parents lived in Oklahoma but decided to relocate to Bakersfield, California for a better life after their barn burned down. The singer’s father, James, worked for the Santa Fe Railroad and ended up converting an old boxcar into a home for his family. Merle was born in that very boxcar and spent many years as a child there.

3. Ronald Reagan pardoned his past life of crime

In 1972, Governor Ronald Reagon pardoned all of the past crimes that Haggard had to his name. The star was so touched he even mentioned it when he performed for President Reagan 10 years later. At the concert, he said, “I hope the president will be as pleased with my performance today as I was with his pardon 10 years ago.”

4. He was great at impressions

 

Haggard was so skilled at impersonating other country artists he was frequently asked to do so as evidenced by this clip from the Glen Campbell Show. Not only does he perfectly capture the sounds of Marty Robbins, Hank Snow, Buck Owens, and Johnny Cash, but also shows their facial expressions and their mannerisms when performing.

5. He was awarded an honorary degree

California State University- Bakersfield, gave the “Okie From Muskogee” singer the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts in 2013. When Haggard walked up to receive this honor he said “Thank you. It’s nice to be noticed.”

6. He defended the Dixie Chicks

After the Dixie Chicks criticized President George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq on stage they received major backlash from fans. Haggard felt they had the right to express their opinion and didn’t understand why there was such a verbal witch hunt out for the trio.

They’ve cut such an honest groove with their career,” Haggard wrote (quote via Rolling Stone). “Because they don’t like George Bush, should we take their records off? I really found that sort of scary. Are we afraid of criticism? And if so, why? It seems to me, we’re guilty in this country of doing everything we’ve always opposed all my life. I’m almost afraid to say something. It got to the point where my wife said, ‘Be careful what you say.’ Well, that’s really not the America I’m used to.”

7. He made the Guinness Book of World Records

The country star made the Guinness Book of World Records after buying 5,095 drinks of Canadian Club for an entire club. The bill was $12,737.50 and became the largest round of drinks ever purchased.

8. He taught himself to play the guitar as a child

Following his father’s death, Haggard’s brother Lowell gave him his first guitar. Inspired by Bob Wills, Lefty Frizzell and Hank Williams, he taught himself to play

9. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts

Following his Kennedy Center Honor for contributions to American culture, he was celebrated at a gala with performances by Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Jamey Johnson, Kid Rock, Miranda Lambert, and Brad Paisley.

10. He had 38 No. 1 hits on the country charts

The country legend is known for hit country songs such as “Sing Me Back Home”, “Mama Tried”, “Pancho and Lefty” (with Willie Nelson), “Workin’ Man Blues,” “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” and “Today I Started Loving You Again” (with Bonnie Owens).

11. Toby Keith saved one of his last shows

Haggard was performing at Mandalay Bay Ballroom in Las Vegas on Feb. 6, 2016 and he was in really rough shape. It was one of his very last performances and he probably should have been in a hospital instead of one stage. Toby Keith came to see the show and jumped up on stage to help perform Haggard’s songs when he was unable to.

 




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“STORIES IN SONG” SERIES 2019 –  “SAM, THE MAN” – By Des Kelly

George Jones, alias “no-show Jones”, or “the Possum”,

has, and always will be, one of the greatest Country Icons that America can boast of, and deservedly so, because he could sing a song that would go straight into the hearts of thousands of his listening audience, either on-stage, or via the hundreds of Radio Stations of the US, committed  24.7, to ONLY Country Music. George Jones died in April, 2013, & his fans lined up for kilometres around, just to glimpse his body for the last time. Thousands gathered in the Streets around to salute the hearse as he went on his last ride. 

He was 82 years old.

   I will feature George Jones himself, later on, but, even before he died they were singing songs titled “Who’s gonna fill their shoes”?, and many, were the Country Stars of that era, who were trying to emulate the Possum. 

My story in song now features the guy I think, was just about the best of a very good lot, SAMMY KERSHAW.

Sammy, in my opinion, not only sang very much like George, he did it, in humble tribute to his idol, they were personal friends, and so, I would like to introduce Sam, the Man, to all my readers. Please sit back, watch & listen to this guy, folks, and I am certain you will enjoy every minute of his effort.

Desmond Kelly

Desmond Kelly.
(Editor -in-Chief)– eLanka.




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“Chiseled in Stone” by Des Kelly

Born in Alabama, Vern Gosdin was known around the World of “Country Music”, as “The Voice”, and it is easy to see why. He had no less than 19 top ten solo “hits” from 1977-1990, three of them ending on the top rung of the “Country” charts.

Taking them in order, as I see the story-telling capabilities of my favourite music, they were :-
“Set em up Joe, I’m still crazy”, & to his beautiful dancing partner (of the night),”I can tell by the way you dance (you’re gonna love me tonight). Now, if that isn’t “telling a story'”, I wouldn’t know what is.!


 

Typically, as it was with so many other great “Stars” of Country Music, Vern & brother Rex were born into a very poor family, both loved Gospel Music with a passion, idolized the “Louvin Brothers”& Vern, as a young man, first sang in a Gospel Quartet in Alabama.

He might not have been as “big” & famous as people such as Merle Haggard, George Jones. and Ray Price, but to me, Vern Gosdin has the pure sound of a true story-teller of Country Music, and I am certain that anyone out there who loves good music and the singing of “The Voice”, will agree with me.

Vern Gosdin was born on the 5th of August 1934, sang his heart out, with brother Rex, as “they” were hangin out, as the Gosdin Brothers, & that just about does it, as he left a huge hole in Country music, when he died of a stroke on the 28th of April, 2009, at the age of 74, but, folks, his name will always be “CHISELED IN STONE” as far as I am concerned.

 

Desmond Kelly
Star of eLanka
(Editor-in-Chief).




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“THIS IS LIFE”.- By Des Kelly

Both of them started their lives never dreaming of the “Stardom” that was to come their way. Tammy Wynette and George Jones, their names would have to be known by ex-Lankans & others, even “settled-down” at the moment, at the centre of the Arctic Circle, so very famous, are they. Both started far from affluence, George, having to join the Marines to “help” a large, but impoverished family, Tammy, actually picking cotton as a very young girl, prompting her to always keep a bowl of cotton-wool in her home, even after stardom.

     As I have always said (& written), the term “this is life”

could not be better said (or sung), in anything but Country Music. The harshest critics of this music will have to agree that Country music, especially by these two, will bring tears into the eyes of the listener, whenever or wherever they hear it.

     Both Tammy, and George, rate in the top 3 of my favourite “Stars”. Both have voices that come forth with such “feeling & warmth”, it seems impossible for either to sing a “bad song”. Both of them look good as they do their thing, both of them reached the top rung of the “showbiz” ladder.

Tammy Wynette, whose “Stand by your man”(hit), should have taught her a lesson, but really did not, as she stood by 5 husbands & George Jones was one of them. She died tragically at the young age of 55, most of those years spent in pain, both physically & mentally. I will present my eLanka readers with more “clips” of Tammy’s solo performances as we remember them. Tammy, rest in peace now. I loved you, as did George & thousands of other Country Music lovers.

     George Jones, being a Marine of the U.S. was just about the only period of time when he had some discipline drilled into him, however, he was always a rebel at heart. Later on, he was acclaimed as the ultimate ” singer” of Country Music. Nicknames such as ” Possum” & “No-show” Jones did nothing to deter him from singing every lyric of every song he ever sang, as if was truly saying “THIS IS LIFE”.

George Jones died at 81 years of age, but I will never forget you, your songs & the way you sang them. R.I.P. George Jones, one of the greatest “Country Stars” of all time.


Desmond Kelly

  Star of eLanka

 (Editor-in-Chief).

 

     

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“THIS IS LIFE” – By Des Kelly

Both of them started their lives never dreaming of the “Stardom” that was to come their way. Tammy Wynette and George Jones, their names would have to be known by ex-Lankans & others, even “settled-down” at the moment, at the centre of the Arctic Circle, so very famous, are they. Both started far from affluence, George, having to join the Marines to “help” a large, but impoverished family, Tammy, actually picking cotton as a very young girl, prompting her to always keep a bowl of cotton-wool in her home, even after stardom.

     As I have always said (& written), the term “this is life” could not be better said (or sung), in anything but Country Music. The harshest critics of this music will have to agree that Country music, especially by these two, will bring tears into the eyes of the listener, whenever or wherever they hear it.


     Both Tammy, and George, rate in the top 3 of my favourite “Stars”. Both have voices that come forth with such “feeling & warmth”, it seems impossible for either to sing a “bad song”. Both of them look good as they do their thing, both of them reached the top rung of the “showbiz” ladder.
Tammy Wynette, whose “Stand by your man”(hit), should have taught her a lesson, but really did not, as she stood by 5 husbands & George Jones was one of them. She died tragically at the young age of 55, most of those years spent in pain, both physically & mentally. I will present my eLanka readers with more “clips” of Tammy’s solo performances as we remember them. Tammy, rest in peace now. I loved you, as did George & thousands of other Country Music lovers.
     George Jones, being a Marine of the U.S. was just about the only period of time when he had some discipline drilled into him, however, he was always a rebel at heart. Later on, he was acclaimed as the ultimate ” singer” of Country Music. Nicknames such as ” Possum” & “No-show” Jones did nothing to deter him from singing every lyric of every song he ever sang, as if was truly saying “THIS IS LIFE”.

George Jones died at 81 years of age, but I will never forget you, your songs & the way you sang them. R.I.P. George Jones, one of the greatest “Country Stars” of all time.
 
   Desmond Kelly
   Star of eLanka
 (Editor-in-Chief).
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“THE JONES’ BOY” – By Des Kelly

Hot on the heels of Ray Price, is another confirmed favourite of mine, incidentally, the favourite of millions of Country Music Fans, throughout this planet, the name of George Jones stands out like a beacon, and yet, there was not “much” of this Music Legend, nicknamed “the possum” for this very reason. A “little guy”, huge “rebel” & “Super-Star”, served in the American Marines, making it obvious to those around him, that here was another “classic Country Star, in the making, and proving, beyond doubt that this was the case indeed.

In an Era when there were so many Country Music Geniuses to contend with, it must have been something of a nightmare to try to figure out which songs to record, in order to have a “hit”in the business known as “Country”. American Country Music has always been noted for being far ahead of all others, not because it is BETTER, but simply because it is “better-presented”, has far more ” followers”, perhaps, because, even TODAY, they have more Radio-Stations, State-wide that “play Country-Music 24/7.

At the same time, when “Stars” of the calibre of Gene Watson, another of my top-favourites, was struggling to reach the top rungs of the “Country-ladder” of fame (he was 70 years old, singing like an angel, with the devil on his back), one does tend to wonder what it is all about.

Back to George Jones. He proved that it didn’t matter what size you were, it didn’t matter that you loved your liquor with a vengeance, it didn’t matter how many times you got married (& he was an absolute “sucker for punishment”, God bless him, George Jones went on to prove that, when he died at 82, EVERYONE knew that George Jones, Country Music Star, had passed-on. No more, would the “Possum” have to “ride” on his motorised lawn-mower, into Town, to buy his “drinks”, after the wife, at the time,(2nd time), had to hide the keys of his famous “Corvette”to try and stop George from getting to the liquor store.

Tammy Wynette tried and failed, other wives tried & failed, but the JONES’ BOY always did what he wanted to do, and that was that!.

Here he is, Ladies & Gentlemen, the “Possum” George Jones

Desmond Kelly.

Star of eLanka.

(Editor-in-Chief).

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