Home Music Music Country Lists

Merle Haggard: The Life and Times of a Badass Legend

From holding his first guitar to “cheap thrills and bad decisions,” see the legend through the years

Merle Haggard; Life in Pictures

Photographs courtesy of Merle Haggard

When Merle Haggard died on his 79th birthday, April 6th, the world lost one country music's greatest performers and writers. Haggard originally began learning to play guitar at the age of 11, but his troubled adolescence and run-ins with the law eventually led to his imprisonment. After his release, Haggard would reshape country music forever: with his band The Strangers, he helped create the Bakersfield Sound, later becoming identified with the outlaw country movement and all the while writing some of the most poetic portraits of American living ever imagined. From his childhood living in a boxcar in California to raising his own family, here are a few snapshots from the life of a true country music badass.