Merle Haggard

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Posted by bender 04/08/2009 @ 18:11

Tags : merle haggard, country, artists, music, entertainment

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Legendary Loretta Lynn performs tonigth the the Tivoli - Chattanooga Times Free Press
When you hear Merle Haggard or Johnny Cash sing of life in prison or Frank Sinatra croon about love lost, you can hear the truth in their voices. When Loretta Lynn sings about whooping a rival after her man, there can be little doubt that she could,...
Quiet Jamey Johnson Lets The Music Do the Talking - Washington Post
He chose only the best material from his two studio albums, alternating original tales of woe with covers of everyone from Lefty Frizzell ("That's the Way Love Goes") to Merle Haggard ("Are the Good Times Really Over"). The attention Johnson gave to...
Author Pens Book About Jimmie Rodgers - WTOK
Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, and Lynyrd Skynyrd are just a few of them who have recorded his music. "This is a very significant published book about Jimmie Rodgers, which backs up all the things we as locals say, but it's from a professional standpoint...
Billy Wayne howling with the wolf against cancer -
Using the voices of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson and others, Wayne performs a hit-filled "Tribute To The Legends of Country" saluting his childhood heroes. "I have always loved country music and have always loved entertaining," Wayne said....
Stephens remembered in prayer, songs and military honors - Record-Searchlight
By Jim Schultz (Contact) Merle Haggard, center, and members of his band The Strangers play Wednesday during the memorial service of friend and guitar player Norm Stephens. Stephens a former member of the band was buried Wednesday at the Northern...
This is: Trip Hazard - St. Joseph News-Press
“If you're a country band and you don't play a Merle Haggard song, there's something wrong with you,” Trainer says. Trip Hazard will perform at 9 pm May 16 at Buffalo Bar. Cover is $5. These comments are a means for our readers to voice their opinion...
Shake Up the Lineup - Cincinnati CityBeat
But this is nothing new for Alvin and his artistic range — he gets tapped almost annually to contribute to tribute records for Merle Haggard, Bruce Springsteen and Doug Sahm, among others. “From about 1992 to '06, we (the Guilty Men) probably averaged...
Week 9: Merle Haggard: Drinkin', Prison, Laughing and Sammy Davis Jr. - A.V. Club
My House Of Memories, Merle Haggard's 1999 autobiography, begins, somewhat incongruously, with its author living on a houseboat and snorting shoeboxes full of blow while being serviced by a floating armada of skanks sometime in the late '70s....
Much more than just a country cover band - Columbus Other Paper
And that's pretty much what it was, as Doe led his backing band—the immensely talented group of Canadian roots-rockers known as the Sadies—through a set of songs by country royalty like Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner, Waylon Jennings and Merle Haggard....
Another side of the country: Cowboy Church welcomes Marty Haggard -
He toured with his dad – country music's Merle Haggard – released some albums in the '80s and was even nominated as Top New Male Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music. But when the record business became just that – a business – Marty took a new...

Merle Haggard

Merle Ronald Haggard (born April 6, 1937) is an American country music singer, guitarist, instrumentalist, and songwriter.

Along with Buck Owens, Haggard and his band "The Strangers" helped create the Bakersfield Sound, which is characterized by the unique twang of Fender Telecaster guitars, vocal harmonies, and a rough edge not heard on the more polished Nashville Sound recordings of the same era. By the 1970s, Haggard was aligned with the growing outlaw country movement, and has continued to release successful albums through the 1990s and into the 2000s. His songs display unflinching personal honesty about such universal themes as love, loss, patriotism, regret and redemption.

In 1997, Merle Haggard was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame for his song Okie from Muskogee.

Merle Haggard was born in Bakersfield, California in 1937. His parents, Flossie Mae Harp and James Francis Haggard, moved from Oklahoma to California during the Great Depression. At that time, much of the population of Bakersfield consisted of economic refugees from Oklahoma and surrounding states.

In 1951, Haggard ran away to Texas with a friend, but returned that same year and was again arrested, this time for truancy and petty larceny. He ran away from that juvenile detention center to which he was sent and went to Modesto, California. He worked odd jobs - legal and not - and began performing in a bar. Once he was found again, he was sent to the Preston School of Industry, a high-security installation. Shortly after he was released, 15 months later, Haggard was sent back after beating a local boy during a burglary attempt.

After his fourth release, Haggard saw Lefty Frizzell in concert with his friend, Bob Teague. After hearing Haggard sing along to his first two songs Frizzell allowed Haggard to sing at the concert. The audience loved Haggard and he began working on a full-time music career. After earning a local reputation, Haggard's money problems caught up with him. He was arrested for robbing a Bakersfield tavern in 1957 and was sent to the San Quentin state prison where he spent 3 years.

Even while in prison, Haggard was wild, running a gambling and brewing racket from his cell. Merle attended three of Johnny Cash's concerts at San Quentin. Seeing Cash perform inspired Haggard to straighten up and pursue his singing. Several years later, at another Cash concert, Haggard came up to Johnny and told him "I certainly enjoyed your show at San Quentin." Cash said "Merle, I don't remember you bein' in that show." Merle Haggard said, "Johnny, I wasn't in that show, I was in the audience." While put in solitary confinement, Haggard encountered author and death row inmate Caryl Chessman. Haggard had the opportunity to escape with a fellow inmate nicknamed "Rabbit" but passed on it. The inmate successfully escaped, only to shoot a police officer and return to San Quentin for execution. Chessman's predicament along with Rabbit's inspired Haggard to turn his life around. He soon earned a high school equivalence diploma, kept a steady job in the prison's textile plant and played in the prison's band.

Upon his release in 1960, Haggard said it took about four months to get used to being out of the penitentiary and that, at times, he actually wanted to go back in. He said it was the loneliest feeling he'd ever had. Haggard was later pardoned by Governor Ronald Reagan.

Upon his release, Haggard started digging ditches and wiring houses for his brother. Soon he was performing again, and later began recording with Tally Records. The Bakersfield Sound was developing in the area as a reaction against the over-produced honky tonk of the Nashville Sound. Haggard's first song was "Skid Row." In 1962, Haggard wound up performing at a Wynn Stewart show in Las Vegas and heard Wynn's "Sing a Sad Song". He asked for permission to record it, and the resulting single was a national hit in 1964.

Regardless of exactly how they were intended, "Okie From Muskogee", "The Fightin' Side of Me", and "I Wonder If They Think Of Me" were hailed as anthems of the so-called "Silent Majority" and presaged a trend in patriotic songs that would reappear years later with Charlie Daniels' "In America", Lee Greenwood's "God Bless the USA", and others. But other Haggard songs were appreciated regardless of politics: in the late 1960s and early '70s the Grateful Dead began performing Haggard's tunes "Mama Tried" and "Sing Me Back Home" and they stayed in their regular repertoire thereafter; singer-activist Joan Baez, whose political leanings couldn't be more different from those expressed in Haggard's above-referenced songs, nonetheless covered "Sing Me Back Home" and "Mama Tried" in 1969. The Everly Brothers also used both songs in their 1968 country-rock album Roots.

Haggard's next LP was A Tribute to the Best Damn Fiddle Player in the World (Or My Salute to Bob Wills), which helped spark a revival of western swing.

On Tuesday, March 14, 1972, shortly after "Carolyn" became another #1 country hit for Merle, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan gave Haggard a full pardon for his past crimes. Haggard often quips that few figures in history can become public enemy No. 1 and man of the year in the same 10-year period.

During the early to mid 1970s, Haggard's chart domination continued with songs like "Someday We'll Look Back", "Carolyn", "Grandma Harp", "Always Wanting You" and "The Roots of My Raising". He also wrote and performed the theme song to the TV series Movin' On, which in 1975 gave him another #1 country hit. The 1973 recession anthem "If We Make It Through December" furthered Haggard's status as a champion of the working class.

Haggard was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977. His deep, grumbling voice and his guitar work gives his country a blues like quality in many cuts.

Country star Willie Nelson believed the 1983 Academy Award-winning film Tender Mercies, about the life of fictional singer Mac Sledge, was based on the life of Merle Haggard. Actor Robert Duvall and other filmmakers denied this and claimed the character was based on nobody in particular. Duvall, however, said he was a big fan of Haggard.

The song "If We Make It Through December" turned out to be Haggard's last pop hit. He published an autobiography called Sing Me Back Home. Although he won a Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for 1984's a new kind of honky tonk newer singers had begun to take over country music, and singers like George Strait and Randy Travis had taken over the charts. Haggard's last No. 1 hit was "Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star" from his smash album Chill Factor in 1988.

In 2006, Haggard was back on the charts in a duet with Gretchen Wilson "Politically Incorrect." He is also featured on "Pledge Allegiance To The Hag" on Eric Church's debut album. The song was also written by Eric Church who said that Haggard has been a huge influence on his life.

In 2000, Haggard made a comeback of sorts, signing with the independent record label Anti and releasing the spare If I Could Only Fly to critical acclaim. He followed it in 2001 with Roots, Vol. 1, a collection of Lefty Frizzell, Hank Williams and Hank Thompson covers, along with three Haggard originals. The album, recorded in Haggard's living room with no overdubs, featured Haggard's longtime bandmates The Strangers as well as Frizzell's original lead guitarist, Norman Stephens.

Haggard's #1 hit single "Mama Tried" is featured in the 2003 film Radio with Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Ed Harris. In addition, his song "Swingin' Doors" can be heard in the 2004 film Crash.

In October 2005, Haggard released his album, "Chicago Wind", to mostly positive reviews. The album contained an anti-Iraq war song titled "America First," in which he laments the nation's economy and faltering infrastructure, applauds its soldiers, and sings, "Let's get out of Iraq, and get back on track." This follows from his 2003 release "Haggard Like Never Before" in which he includes a song, "That's The News" questioning the strength and validity of President Bush's proclamation that the war in Iraq was over.

On April 24, 2006 Haggard's former wife Bonnie Owens died in Bakersfield, CA due to Alzheimer's disease. She was 76.

On December 19, 2006, the Kern County Board of Supervisors approved a citizen led resolution to re-name a portion of 7th Standard Road in Oildale "Merle Haggard Drive." Merle Haggard Drive will stretch from North Chester Avenue west to Highway 99. The first street travelers will turn onto when they leave the new airport terminal will be Merle Haggard Drive.

Haggard released a bluegrass album, The Bluegrass Sessions, on October 2, 2007.

In 2008, Haggard was going to perform at Riverfest in Little Rock, Arkansas, but the concert was canceled because he was experiencing some sickness, and three other concerts were canceled as well; however, he was back on the road in June and successfully completed a tour that ended on October 19.

On November 9, 2008, it was announced that Haggard had been diagnosed with non-small cell lung cancer and had undergone surgery on November 3 to have part of his lung removed. Haggard returned home on November 8 and is said to be doing better.

Less then 2 months after having surgery to remove his lung cancer Haggard played two shows on January 2nd and 3rd, 2009 in Bakersfield, CA at Buck Owens' Crystal Palace and is planning to contiue to tour and record.

On January 9, 2009 Haggard filed a lawsuit against Freedom Train, aka the Green Train, and it's founder Bob Wolf, for misrepresenting him. Haggard accuses Wolf of using his name without authorization and forging his signature to raise money for the Green Train, a travelling show that is intended to use the nation’s rails to increase awareness of planetary issues. The suit also contends that some of the money raised has been used improperly for personal purposes. Merle appeared with Vince Gill, Big Kenny and guitarist Steve Cropper at a Nashville fundraiser for the Green Train in June that cost $1,000 per person to attend. He says in the suit that the appearance was the only commitment he made to the Green Train. He contends that the unauthorized use of his name will cause irreparable harm to him. The Green Train has, according to The Tennessean, failed to register with the state’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming. An investigation is promised.

Merle Haggard endorses Fender guitars and has a Custom Artist signature model Telecaster. The guitar is a modified Telecaster Thinline with laminated top of figured maple, set neck with deep carved heel, birdseye maple fingerboard with 22 jumbo frets, ivoroid pickguard and binding, gold hardware, abalone Tuff Dog Tele peghead inlay, 2-Colour Sunburst finish and a pair of Fender Texas Special Tele single-coil pickups with custom-wired 4-way pickup switching. He also plays six string acoustic models.

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Merle Haggard discography

The discography for American country music singer Merle Haggard includes a selection of compilation albums.

NOTE: This section does not include every compilation album released. Only the major label releases.

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A Portrait of Merle Haggard

A Portrait of Merle Haggard cover

A Portrait of Merle Haggard is an album by country singer Merle Haggard, released in 1969.

Two number one singles were contained on the album — "Workin' Man's Blues" and "Hungry Eyes" — both would become signature songs for Haggard.

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Willie Nelson

Willie Nelson performing at the Chumash Casino Resort in Santa Ynez, California.

Willie Hugh Nelson (born April 30, 1933) is an American country singer-songwriter, author, poet and actor. He reached his greatest fame during the outlaw country movement of the 1970s, but remains iconic, especially in American popular culture. In recent years he has continued to tour, record, and perform, and this, combined with activities in advocacy of marijuana, as well as a well-publicized 2006 arrest for marijuana possession, have made him the subject of renewed media attention.

Nelson was born and raised in Abbott, Texas, the son of Myrle and Ira D. Nelson, who was a mechanic and pool hall owner. His grandparents William Alfred Nelson and Nancy Elizabeth Smothers gave him mail-order music lessons starting at age six. He wrote his first song when he was seven and was playing in a local band at age nine. Willie played the guitar, while his sister Bobbie played the piano. He met Bud Fletcher, a fiddler, and two siblings joined his band, Bohemian Fiddlers, while Nelson was in high school. While he was in high school he took part in the National FFA Organization (formerly known as the Future Farmers of America).

Beginning in high school Nelson worked as a disc jockey for local radio stations. Nelson had short DJ stints with KHBR in Hillsboro, Texas, and later with KBOP in Pleasanton, Texas, while singing locally in honky tonk bars.

Nelson graduated from Abbott High School in 1951. He joined the Air Force the same year but was discharged after nine months due to back problems. He then studied agriculture at Baylor University for one year in 1954.

In 1956, Nelson moved to Vancouver, Washington, to begin a musical career, recording "Lumberjack," which was written by Leon Payne. The single sold fairly well, but did not establish a career. Nelson continued to work as a radio announcer in Vancouver and sing in clubs. He sold a song called "Family Bible" for $50; the song was a hit for Claude Gray in 1960, has been covered widely and is often considered a gospel music classic.

He was unable to keep his momentum going, however, and Nelson's career ground to a halt. Demo recordings from his years as a songwriter for Pamper Music were later discovered and released as Crazy: The Demo Sessions (2003).

In 1965, Nelson moved to RCA Victor Records and joined the Grand Ole Opry. He released a string of standard, mid-60s Nashville Sound-inspired country albums, mostly produced by Chet Atkins. He had a number of mid-level hits chart hits throughout the remainder of the 1960s and into the early '70s, before retiring and moving to Austin, Texas. While in Austin, with its burgeoning "hippie" music scene (see Armadillo World Headquarters), Nelson decided to return to music. His popularity in Austin soared, as he played his own brand of country music marked by rock and roll, jazz, western swing, and folk influences. A lifelong passion for running and a new commitment to his own health also began during this period.

In the mid 1970's, Nelson purchased property near Lake Travis in Austin and built Pedernales Studio. The studio underwent state of the art renovations in the mid 1990's, and many top recording artists adorn its client list. Its amenities include a 9-hole golf course, tennis courts and an Olympic size swimming pool.

Nelson signed with Atlantic Records and released Shotgun Willie (1973), which won excellent reviews but did not sell well. Phases and Stages (1974), a concept album inspired by his divorce, included the hit single "Bloody Mary Morning." Nelson then moved to Columbia Records, where he was given complete creative control over his work. The result was the critically acclaimed, massively popular concept album, Red Headed Stranger (1975). Although Columbia was reluctant to release an album with primarily a guitar and piano for accompaniment, Nelson insisted (with the assistance of Waylon Jennings) and the album was a huge hit, partially because it included a popular cover of "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" (written by Fred Rose in 1945). "Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain" became Nelson's first number one hit as a singer.

Along with Nelson, Waylon Jennings was also achieving success in country music in the early 1970s, and the pair were soon combined into a genre called outlaw country ("outlaw" because it did not conform to Nashville standards). Nelson's outlaw image was cemented with the release of the album Wanted! The Outlaws (1976, with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter and Tompall Glaser), country music's first platinum album. Nelson continued to top the charts with hit songs during the late 1970s, including "Good Hearted Woman" (a duet with Jennings), "Remember Me", "If You've Got the Money I've Got the Time", "Uncloudy Day", "I Love You a Thousand Ways", and "Something to Brag About" (a duet with Mary Kay Place).

In 1978, Nelson released two more platinum albums, Waylon and Willie (a collaboration with Jennings that included "Mammas Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," which was written and originally recorded as a hit single by Ed Bruce a couple of years earlier), and Stardust, an unusual album of popular standards. It was produced by Booker T. Jones. Though most observers predicted that Stardust would ruin his career, it ended up being one of his most successful recordings.

Nelson began acting, appearing in The Electric Horseman (1979), Honeysuckle Rose (1980), Thief (1981), and Barbarosa (1982). Also in 1982 he played "Red Loon," in Coming Out of the Ice with John Savage. In 1984 he starred in the movie Songwriter with Kris Kristoferson guest starring. He then had the lead role in Red Headed Stranger (1986, with Morgan Fairchild), Wag the Dog (1997), Gone Fishin (1997) as Billy 'Catch' Pooler, the 1986 TV movie Stagecoach (with Johnny Cash), Dukes of Hazzard (2006) and Surfer, Dude (2008).

He has continued acting since his early successes, but usually in smaller roles and cameos, some of which involve his status as a cannabis activist and icon. One of his more popular recent cameos was a performance in Half Baked as an elderly "Historian Smoker" who, while smoking marijuana, would reminisce about how things used to be in his younger years. Nelson also appeared as himself in the 2006 movie Beerfest, looking for teammates to join him in a mythical world-championship cannabis-smoking contest held in Amsterdam. That same week Willie Nelson recorded, "I'll Never Smoke Weed with Willie Again" with Toby Keith.

He has made guest appearances on Miami Vice, Delta, Nash Bridges, The Simpsons, Monk, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, King of the Hill, Bones and The Colbert Report. He played country singer-songwriter Johnny Dean in the 1997 film Wag the Dog. He played Uncle Jesse in The Dukes of Hazzard, the 2005 cinematic treatment of the television series, and was the only member of the big screen cast to reprise the role in the TV/DVD movie prequel The Dukes of Hazzard: The Beginning (2007) (V). He also briefly appeared in Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.

The Eighties saw a series of hit singles: "Midnight Rider" (1980; a cover of the Allman Brothers song, which Nelson recorded for The Electric Horseman soundtrack), "On the Road Again" (1982) from the movie Honeysuckle Rose and "To All the Girls I've Loved Before" (a rather incongruous duet with Julio Iglesias). There were also more popular albums, including Pancho & Lefty (1982, with Merle Haggard), WWII (1982, with Waylon Jennings) and Take it to the Limit (1983, with Waylon Jennings).

In the mid-1980s, Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson, and Johnny Cash formed a group called The Highwaymen. They achieved unexpectedly massive success, including platinum record sales and worldwide touring. Meanwhile, he became more and more involved in charity work, such as establishing the Farm Aid concerts in 1985.

In 1990, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) handed Nelson a bill for $16.7 million in back taxes and seized most of his assets to help pay the charges. He released The IRS Tapes: Who'll Buy My Memories? as a double album, with all profits going straight to the IRS. Many of his assets were auctioned and purchased by friends, who gave his possessions back to him or rented them at a nominal fee. He sued accounting firm Price Waterhouse, contending that they put him into tax shelters that were later disallowed. The lawsuit was settled for an undisclosed amount. His debts were paid by 1993.

In 1996, Willie Nelson was featured on the Beach Boys' now out-of-print album Stars and Stripes Vol. 1 singing a cover of their 1964 song "The Warmth of the Sun" with the Beach Boys themselves providing the harmonies and backing vocals. He also starred in Baywatch as an old man in boxer shorts.

He released Across the Borderline in 1993, with guests Bob Dylan, Sinéad O'Connor, David Crosby, Bonnie Raitt, Kris Kristofferson and Paul Simon.

During the 1990s and 2000s, Nelson has toured continuously and released albums that generally received mixed reviews, with the exception of 1998's critically acclaimed Teatro (which was produced by Daniel Lanois—more commonly known for his work with U2—and featured supporting vocals by Emmylou Harris). Later that year, he joined rock band Phish onstage for several songs as part of the annual Farm Aid festival. He also performed a duet concert with fellow Highwayman Johnny Cash, recorded for the VH1 Storytellers series.

Nelson received Kennedy Center Honors in 1998. A star-studded television special celebrating his 70th birthday aired in 2003. In 2004, he released Outlaws & Angels, featuring guests Toby Keith, Joe Walsh, Merle Haggard, Kid Rock, Al Green, Shelby Lynne, Carole King, Toots Hibbert, Ben Harper, Lee Ann Womack, The Holmes Brothers, Los Lonely Boys, Lucinda Williams, Keith Richards, Jerry Lee Lewis and Rickie Lee Jones. Willie Nelson: An Epic Life by Joe Nick Patoski will be released in April, 2008. Mr. Patoski did over 100 interviews with Willie, his family, his band, the people he grew up with in Abbott, and many others. This is part biography, part memoir, part history, from the depression to Willie as he celebrates his 75th birthday.

In 2007, Nelson performed with jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis in a concert at New York City's Lincoln Center, a date commemorated the following year with both a compact disc and DVD.

Also in 2008, Willie Nelson teamed up with World Idol contest winner Kurt Nilsen from Norway and recorded the duet American classic "Lost Highway". The duet reached the top of the charts in Norway, and was performed live for the first time when Nelson made a surprise guest appearance at Nelson's show in Hamar on 2 May.

In 2004, Nelson and his wife Annie became partners with Bob and Kelly King in the building of two Pacific Bio-diesel plants, one in Salem, Oregon, and the other at Carl's Corner, Texas, (the Texas plant was founded by Carl Cornelius, a longtime Nelson friend). In 2005, Nelson and several other business partners formed Willie Nelson Biodiesel ("Bio-Willie"), a company that is marketing bio-diesel bio-fuel to truck stops. The fuel is made from vegetable oil (mainly soybean oil), and can be burned without modification in diesel engines.

Nelson is a co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advisory board. He has worked with NORML for years for marijuana legalization and has produced commercials for NORML that have appeared on Pot TV programs. He has also recorded a number of radio commercials for the organization. In 2005, Nelson and his family hosted the first annual "Willie Nelson & NORML Benefit Golf Tournament," which appeared on the cover of High Times magazine.

On January 9, 2005, Nelson headlined an all-star concert at Austin Music Hall to benefit the victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. Tsunami Relief Austin to Asia raised an estimated $120,000 for UNICEF and two other organizations.

Nelson was a supporter of Kinky Friedman's campaign in the 2006 Texas gubernatorial election. In 2005, he recorded a radio advertisement asking for support to put Friedman on the ballot as an independent candidate. Friedman promised Willie a job in Austin as the head of a new Texas Energy Commission due to Nelson's support of bio-fuels. (Friedman was on the ballot but came in fourth with 12.43 percent, losing to Republican Rick Perry).

Nelson supported Dennis Kucinich's campaign in the 2004 Democratic presidential primaries. He raised money, appeared at events, composed a song ("Whatever Happened to Peace on Earth?"), and contributing a quote for the front cover of Kucinich's book for the campaign.

In January 2008, Nelson filed suit against the Texas Democratic Party. Nelson alleges that the party violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution when it refused to allow co-plaintiff Dennis Kucinich to appear on the primary ballot because he had scratched out part of the loyalty oath on his application.

Nelson is an honorary trustee of the Dayton International Peace Museum.

Nelson is an advocate for horses and their treatment. He has been campaigning for passage of the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act (H.R. 503/S. 311) with the Animal Welfare Institute. He is on the Board of Directors and has adopted a number of horses from Habitat for Horses.

In March 2007, Ben & Jerry's released a new flavor, "Willie Nelson’s Country Peach Cobbler Ice Cream". Nelson's proceeds will be donated to Farm Aid. The flavor has been re-released and is now available, after Ben & Jerry's voluntary recall of 250,000 pints of the new flavor on March 19, 2007, as wheat was incorrectly excluded from the list of ingredients.

Willie Nelson founded the Willie Nelson Peace Research Institute in April 2007. Nelson and his daughter Amy Nelson wrote a song called "A Peaceful Solution", which they released into the public domain, and encouraged artists to render their own version of the song, which he would feature on the Institute's web site.

Willie Nelson has been married four times and fathered nine children.

Nelson can trace his genealogy to the American Revolutionary War, in which his ancestor John Nelson served as a Major.

Nelson is a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon international fraternity.

Nelson is widely recognized as an American icon. His distinctive music and other social and political activities sometimes take a backseat to his pop-culture public image (firmly grounded in the acknowledged reality of his life) - that of an elderly, lifelong marijuana-smoking, tax-evading, biodiesel-burning, old-school cowboy-hippie troubadour. His image is marked by his red hair, often divided into two long braids partially concealed under a bandana. He has been featured in recent advertisements for a variety of products and companies, including a 2002 spot directed by Peter Lindbergh for Gap where he performs Hank Williams' "Move It On Over" alongside Ryan Adams.

In 2005, Democratic Texas Senator Gonzalo Barrientos introduced a bill to name 49 miles of the Travis County section of State Highway 130, after Nelson. At one point, Barrientos had 23 of the 31 state Senators as co-sponsors. The legislation was dropped after two Republican senators, Florence Shapiro and Jeff Wentworth, pulled the bill from the Senate's "Local and Uncontested Calendar" and Barrientos decided not to put it on the regular calendar. Republicans' objections were based on Nelson's lack of connection to the highway, his fundraisers for Democrats, his drinking and his marijuana advocacy.

Nelson also volunteered to narrate "The Austin Disaster, 1911", a little-known documentary about a flood in Potter County, Pennsylvania (see Floods in the United States). Before the tragedy, an unrelated William "Willie" Nelson repeatedly warned residents of possible dam failure.

Willie Nelson performed a duet on "Beer for my Horses" with Toby Keith on Keith's Unleashed album released in 2002. This song was released as a single in 2003 and Nelson shot a video with Keith in 2003. The single topped the Billboard Hot Country Songs charts for six consecutive weeks and the video won an award for "Best Video" at the Academy of Country Music Awards held on May 26, 2004.

In 2002, Nelson signed a deal to become the official spokesman of the Texas Roadhouse, a fast-growing chain of steakhouses in the U.S. Since then, Nelson has heavily promoted the chain (including a special on Food Network). Meanwhile the Texas Roadhouse itself installed "Willie's Corner" at several locations, which is a section dedicated to Nelson and decked out with memorabilia of him.

No stranger to controversy, he released the Tex-Mex style "Cowboys Are Frequently, Secretly Fond of Each Other," a song about gay cowboys, as a digital single through the iTunes Music Store on Valentine's Day 2006, shortly after the release of the film Brokeback Mountain (which also featured Nelson on the soundtrack). He deadpans his way through the song, with such phrases as "What did you think all them saddles and boots was about?" and "Inside every cowboy there's a lady who'd love to slip out." The song was written and first recorded more than twenty years previously by musicologist/songwriter Ned Sublette and had also been covered, prior to Nelson's version, by queercore band Pansy Division.

On January 29, 2008 Nelson released an album entitled Moment of Forever.

The January 2008 issue of High Times magazine has Willie Nelson on the cover with an interview.

In May 2008, Nelson appeared on a duet with Norwegian pop star and former World Idol winner Kurt Nilsen on the country classic "Lost Highway". The single topped the Norwegian charts and was released on Nilsen's album Rise To The Occasion. Subsequent reports have stated that Nelson is eager to expand the collaboration further.

In May 2008, Willie Nelson appeared in Amsterdam with rap icon Snoop Dogg where they did a live version of "SuperMan". Subsequently the two have become friends and recently released a video "My Medicine", which has received much play on YouTube.

In February 2009, Willie Nelson teamed up with Asleep at the Wheel to release an album entitled Willie and the Wheel on the Bismeaux Records label. This is a western swing album will covers of Bob Wills, Milton Brown, Cliff Bruner and others.

On March 17, 2009, Willie Nelson released his latest album entitled Naked Willie. The album include remixes of recordings from 1966-1970, stripped-down without orchestration or background vocals.

Nelson's principal guitar is a Martin N-20 nylon-string acoustic, which he has named "Trigger", after Roy Rogers' horse. Constant strumming (with a guitar pick) over the decades has worn a large sweeping hole into the guitar's body near the sound hole (there is no pick-guard on the Martin N-20 since classical guitars are meant to be played fingerstyle instead of with flat-picks). Its soundboard has been signed over the years by over a hundred of Nelson's friends and associates, from fellow musicians to lawyers and football coaches. Nelson has often said that when the hole in Trigger's body makes the guitar unplayable he will retire.

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Roy Nichols

Roy Nichols Was a United States country music guitarist best known as the lead guitarist for Merle Haggard for more than two decades. He was known for his guitar technique, a mix of fingerpicking and pedal steel-like bends, usually played on a Telecaster.

Roy Ernest Nichols was born October 21st, 1932 in Chandler, Arizona. His parents were Bruce and Lucille Nichols. Roy was the 1st born of 7 children. The Nichols family moved to Fresno, California when he was 2. They owned a camp for migrant farm workers. Sometimes a traveling Gypsy band would stay at the camp. Roy would hide and watch them play. His father Bruce played upright bass at the local dances on the weekends in the San Joaquin Valley. Roy was interested in his father’s music. He learned 3 chords from his Dad and began playing in his Dad’s band on the weekends when he was 11. By age 14, Roy began playing weekends with Curly Roberts and the Rangers. This earned him $25 a week.

Shortly before his 16th birthday, Roy met Fred Maddox, of the Maddox Brothers. The Maddox Brothers and Rose was a colorful hillbilly band. They heard Nichols playing guitar on the Saturday-morning radio program by Barney Lee, a DJ in Fresno. Roy was now earning $90 a week. This was big money for a 16 year old. “He could play anything,” said Rose Maddox. “He was good at all of it. Every guitar picker in the country wanted to play like him, but none of them ever compared. He was one of a kind. But the music aside, he was like any 16-year-old kid - feisty, causing us trouble. But my mother brought him under.” At a Maddox show in Mesa, Arizona, a teen-age couple sat in front row. It was Buck Owens and Bonnie Campbell Owens. They were fascinated with Roy’s playing. The Maddox Brothers toured out of state for extended periods. Fred became Roy’s legal guardian and tutor. Fred’s brother, Henry Maddox, was actually the one who tutored Nichols. While in Las Vegas, Roy began sneaking away to gamble. Lula Maddox watched out for Roy, and caught him gambling one night. He was warned not to gamble. He was caught the next night and was fired by Lula. Roy was with the Maddox group for 18 months. He recorded over 100 songs and toured almost 7 nights a week.

Returning to the valley, Roy joined Smiley Maxidon on radio station KNGS in Hanford, CA. He played a 1-hour live broadcast. Roy also played dances several nights a week. He would stay up all-night and then play the 7 a.m. radio show.

About a year later, Lefty Frizzell employed Nichols. Lefty was from Texas, but he was a country music icon in Bakersfield. Merle Haggard watched Roy play with Frizzell in 1953 at the Rainbow Gardens. In 1954, Roy returned to work for another year at the radio station with Maxidon.

In 1955, Roy joined Cousin Herb Henson's Trading Post Gang's TV show. For 5 days a week, this 45-minute live country music show was aired on station KERO in Bakersfield, California. Nichols remained there for 5 of the 11 years the show ran. Roy also played at the Foothill Club in Long Beach with Billy Mize and Cliff Crofford. Roy actually toured with Johnny Cash during that period.

On June 15th, 1965 Nichols was hired straight out of Wynn’s band by Merle Haggard. Roy flew to Phoenix to join Merle on his 1st tour. Merle Haggard formed his band “The Strangers”. Roy was his first hire. Wynn Stewart had been paying Roy $250 and week. Merle hired him for $125 a week. Roy had three conditions for being hired by Haggard. "I don't drive, I carry my own amplifier, and I know where my bed is every night".

Over the next two decades, Merle Haggard and the Strangers had 38 #1 songs, and 33 in the top 10. Roy published 19 songs that he wrote. “Street Singer,” was recorded by Merle and was nominated for a Grammy in 1970. Roy toured with Merle in the US and overseas. Highlights include Carnegie Hall, Madison Square Gardens, the White House for one President, and the Summer White House for another President. The Academy of Country and Western Music honored Roy with nominations for 'Guitarist of the Year' several times. The Strangers were voted “Touring Band of the Year” seven times.

Roy retired from the road in March of 1987. He was later inducted into the Western Swing Society Hall of Fame in Sacramento.

Roy suffered a stroke in February of 1996. It left him partially paralyzed, in a way in which he could no longer play guitar. Roy sadly spent his last years only playing guitar in his head.

Roy was being treated for a non-life-threatening infection at Mercy Hospital in Bakersfield when he had a heart attack and passed away on July 3, 2001.

Roy left behind a great legacy of music. He has dramatically changed the way we approach country guitar, as we know it today.

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Same Train, A Different Time

Same Train, A Different Time: Merle Haggard Sings the Great Songs of Jimmie Rodgers cover

Same Train, A Different Time (subtitled Merle Haggard Sings the Great Songs of Jimmie Rodgers) is a 1969 album by American country music artist Merle Haggard. It was originally released as a 2 LP set on Capitol (SWBB-223).

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The Bluegrass Sessions (Merle Haggard album)

The Bluegrass Sessions cover

The Bluegrass Sessions is an album by American country music singer and songwriter Merle Haggard. This album was released on October 2, 2007 on the McCoury Music and Hag Records.

The bulk of the album was cut live in the studio in one day, with very little overdubbing. Guests include Alison Krauss and Marty Stuart.

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Movin' On (Merle Haggard song)

In addition to serving as the main theme to Movin' On, the song was among many in country music to pay homage to the American over-the-road truck driver.

Session Personnel: Guitar: Roy Nichols, Ronnie Reno. Bass: Johnny Meeks. Drums: Biff Adam.

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Hungry Eyes (Merle Haggard song)

During the late 1960s, Haggard released a series of recordings many critics have deemed to be not only some of his greatest works, but some of the most significant in the history of country music. "Hungry Eyes" — sometimes known as "Mama's Hungry Eyes" — is one of those recordings.

According to genre historian Bill Malone, Haggard wrote the song as a tribute to his mother and the sacrifices she made for her family as a single mother (Haggard's father having died when he was 9). The song itself is not autobiographical, Malone noted, as the Haggard family never lived in a labor camp.

However, "Hungry Eyes" is a tribute to Oklahomans and others who lived in labor camps during the Great Depression, the time period in which this song is set. "(I)t is Haggard's way of commemorating a whole generation of Okies who persisted through persecution and suffering to transplant their culture to California," Malone wrote.

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Source : Wikipedia