Merle Haggard Comes to Three Stages, 3/5 & 6
Executive Director Dave Pier noted that "there are few people who epitomize the spirit and the reality of country music the way Merle Haggard does. We're honored to have him on Stage One."
Merle Haggard & The Strangers will perform in Three Stages on Monday, March 5 and Tuesday March 6; both shows begin at 7: 30. Tickets are $49-$69 with Premium tickets available for $79; they are available online at www.threestages.net or from Three Stages Ticket Office at 916-608-6888 from 10 am to 6 pm, Monday through Saturday, and two hours before show time. Three Stages is located on the west side of Folsom Lake College campus in Folsom, CA, facing East Bidwell Street.
Merle Haggard's career has been illustrious. He has received eight Grammy Nominations and won Best Country Vocal Performance for "That's The Way Love Goes" in 1984. To date he has written hundreds of songs, including the classics "Sing Me Back Home," "Okie From Muskogee," "Mama Tried" and "Silver Wings," among others. The former "B" side, "Today I Started Loving You Again," has been recorded by over 400 artists to date. Fifty-six of his songs have received awards from BMI (47 country, 9 pop). Three of his songs have logged over a million plays ("Today I Started Loving You Again," "Okie From Muskogee" and "Big City"). He has released over 65 albums, most of which have charted in the major trade publications; four of his albums have been certified gold. He has been nominated 42 times for CMA awards, more than any other male country entertainer.
But Mr. Haggard's life path has never been easy, nor has much of it been pretty, as aired in his 1981 book, Sing Me Back Home. His childhood years were spent in Bakersfield, California, and the death of his father, when Merle was just nine years old, became the catalyst that led to a squandered youth. At the same time, his love for the wandering songs of such as Jimmie Rodgers, lead to an errant passion for the gleaming, endless railroad tracks and the siren song of slow freights and hobo jungles. And, along the way, to numerous brushes with the law.
Incarceration for three years in San Quentin Penitentiary became the experience that finally changed his perspective and the spark that turned his head around. He abruptly assumed the role of a model prisoner and was paroled in 1960. (Over a decade later, in 1972, California's governor Ronald Reagan granted him a full pardon.)
He was signed by Tally Records, owned by close friend Lewis Tally, and began cutting singles in a garage behind Tally's house. His first single was "Singing My Heart Out," which received some regional airplay on the West Coast, but it was in 1963 that he eventually broke into the top twenty of Billboard's country charts with his first national hit, "Sing A Sad Song."
Since then the country charts have been his second home.
His band, The Strangers, have become known as one of country music's finest road bands, and they themselves have been the recipients of a number of industry accolades, including being eight-time winners of the Academy of Country Music's Touring Band of the Year Award, as well as, a pair of Music City News awards for Band of the Year. They have also recorded several albums of their own.
In late January of this year, Mr. Haggard was hospitalized in Macon, Georgia with double pneumonia; his website notes that he is resuming his national tour in support of his latest recording "Working In Tennessee" on February 28 in Tucson, AZ.
On his website, Merle Haggard states "Thanks to the wonderful people all over the world that prayed those special prayers. I'm a new man. Another special thanks to the folks of Macon, GA for their kindness, intelligence and probably saving my life!"