Merle Haggard Passes Away at 79


Merle Haggard – April 6, 1937 – April 6, 2016
By Chris Murphy

So sad to learn that Merle Haggard has passed away on his birthday after battling recent illness. Merle is a big part of Modesto’s history, living and working here in the 50’s. Some of our old forklift drivers used to run around with him back in the days. There were so many stories. His music was a staple of the country outlaw generation and much of his music was rooted here in Modesto. His friendship and collaboration with Chester Smith brought Merle back to Modesto many times.

When I interviewed Marty Stuart a few years ago, and he was talking about Don Maddox, Merle was always the go to person when they talked about what the Rockabilly legends was up to next. His Modesto and Bakersfield connections where a big part of his music legacy and the origins of many of his songs.

His music, and his culture will live on and Modesto will always be part of Merle.

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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.