Written by Jon Mercer in Celebrities
Viewed by 60 readers since 01-15-2009
Merle Haggard, 71, is not about to let his battle with lung cancer stop him. The singer-song writer is planning a tour just seven weeks after having a lemon sized tumor removed not to mention a new album in the works. Fact is Haggard says that he is expecting to work harder in 2009 than he has in twenty years.
Haggard will perform his first concert since the surgery in a little over two months in his hometown of Bakersfield, California. The singer says he is performing better since he has kicked his daily marijuana habit and that he thinks his new album can stir up some good humor in people that are crying for good news.
Haggard, who penned the song “Okie From Muskogee,” about pot smoking hippies in 1969, got hooked on marijuana after a doctor told him it would help him break his valium habit; he now says he’s looking forward to doing shows without the affects of drugs or tobacco.
The tour will visit some unusual venues, such as women’s prisons, churches, and hospitals. From the age of 14 thru 23, the singer himself was in and out of institutions for various crimes, so he says he can relate to the crowds in those types of places. He spent his twenty-first birthday in San Quentin State Prison, where he served nearly three years for burglary. In 1959 he saw Johnny Cash perform there.
That was a defining moment for Haggard, who in the late 1960’s found fame of his own with his chart topping single “Branded Man.” With 39 No. 1 hits to his credit, Merle Haggard ranks among the likes of Cash, George Jones, and Willie Nelson as a mega-star of country music.
Artists as diverse as the Grateful Dead, Elvis Costello, John Fogerty, and Lynyrd Skynyrd have covered his songs and he has, throughout the years, elegantly performed in almost every musical genre there is. His most recent album, “The Bluegrass Sessions” from 2007 is a superb double disk set that has both studio and live tracks. But the album remains unreleased because Haggard has not decided quite how to market the venture, as it is such a big departure from his normal brand of music.
Haggard is anxious to begin his tour and says that he looks forward to performing in front of his fans again. No matter what style of music he performs, it is a sure bet that crowds will not be disappointed when this country music legend takes the stage.