American country music legend Merle Haggard died

Apr 8, 2016 11:21 IST

American country music legend Merle Haggard died of pneumonia at his home in Northern California on 6 April 2016, the day was his 79th birthday.

Born on 6 April 1937 in California, Haggard along with Buck Owens and his band the Strangers is credited to define the Bakersfield sound, country music with a distinctive twang and lack of sophisticated production.

Haggard wrote songs, sang and played fiddle and guitar, usually singing about American pride and outlaws.

He recorded about three dozen number one country hits in a musical career that spanned six decades, from the 1960s into the 2010s. His top hits include Mama Tried, The Fugitive, If We Make It Through December, Okie from Muskogee and Fightin' Side of Me.

Legacy and honors

• He received numerous awards from the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, and National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (Grammy Awards).

• He was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1977, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in 1994, and the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame in 1997.

• In 2006, he received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

• In 2006, he was honored as a BMI Icon at the 54th annual BMI Pop Awards.

• During his songwriting career, he had earned 48 BMI Country Awards, nine BMI Pop Awards, a BMI R&B Award, and 16 BMI Million-Air awards.

• In December 2010, he accepted Kennedy Center Honor from the John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in recognition of his lifetime achievement and "outstanding contribution to American culture.

• In June 2013, the California State University, Bakersfield, awarded Haggard the honorary degree of Doctor of Fine Arts.

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