Merle Haggard Biography: Age, Net Worth, Wives, Children, Parents, Siblings, Career

May 27, 2024 0 Posted By Haruna Ayuba

Merle Ronald Haggard was a talented country music artist primarily known for his skills as a singer and songwriter. In addition to his vocal and lyrical talents, he was skilled at playing the guitar and fiddle, making him a well-rounded musician.

With his impressive musical abilities and career spanning over five decades, Haggard is considered a legend in the country music industry.


  • Full Name: Merle Ronald Haggard
  • Stage Name: Merle Haggard
  • Born: April 6, 1937
  • Died: April 6, 2016 (aged 79)
  • Birthplace: Oildale, California
  • Nationality: American
  • Occupation: Singer, songwriter, and guitarist
  • Height: 1.75 m
  • Parents: James Francis Haggard and Flossie Mae Harp
  • Siblings: Lillian Haggard and James Lowell Haggard
  • Spouse:
    • Leona Hobbs (m. 1956; div. 1964)
    • Bonnie Owens (m. 1965; div. 1978)
    • Leona Williams (m. 1978; div. 1983)
    • Debbie Parret (m. 1985; div. 1991)
    • Theresa Ann Lane (m. 1993)
  • Children: Ben Haggard, Marty Haggard, Noel Haggard, Jenessa Haggard, Kelli Haggard, Dana Haggard
  • Relationship Status: Married
  • Net Worth: $40 million

Early Life and Education

Merle Ronald Haggard was a beloved American country singer, songwriter, and guitarist. He was born on April 6, 1937, in Oildale, California, to Flossie Mae and James Francis Haggard.

The Haggard family had initially lived in Checotah, Oklahoma, but had to move to California during the Great Depression after their barn was destroyed by a fire in 1934.

Haggard’s upbringing in a working-class family greatly influenced his music and lyrics, which often reflected the struggles and experiences of the commoner.

Due to his rebellious nature and frequent stints in reform schools, Haggard’s formal education was likely disrupted and limited. However, this did not stop him from becoming a successful country music singer and songwriter, with his songs often reflecting his troubled past.

Despite his lack of formal education, Haggard’s talent and determination allowed him to succeed in the music industry.


Merle Ronald Haggard was a renowned country music artist known for his raw and twangy style of music, influenced by his early struggles and life experiences.

After being incarcerated in his youth, Haggard found himself in Bakersfield, California, where he connected with the “Bakersfield sound.” This style of music, characterized by its stripped-down and authentic approach, heavily influenced Haggard’s musical style.

His rise to fame in the late 1960s brought him success with songs like “The Fugitive” and “Sing Me Back Home,” which resonated with audiences for their relatable themes and Haggard’s distinct vocals.

He also became a prominent figure in the “outlaw country” movement, challenging the polished and mainstream sound of Nashville with his rebellious spirit and unconventional lyrics.

One of the most influential and successful figures in country music, Merle Ronald Haggard, left a lasting impact on the genre and its fans. He was known for his chart-topping success and critically acclaimed songwriting, earning him numerous accolades and awards.

Haggard’s legacy goes beyond his musical achievements as he also stayed true to his artistic vision and used his platform to address critical social issues. His independent spirit and dedication to his craft continue to inspire aspiring musicians and fans alike.

Awards and Nominations

Grammy Awards:

  • 2006: Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2006 (Nominee): Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (for “Politically Incorrect” with Gretchen Wilson)
  • 2005 (Nominee): Best Country Collaboration with Vocals (for “Pancho & Lefty” with Toby Keith and Willie Nelson)
  • 2002 (Nominee): Best Southern, Country or Bluegrass Gospel Album (for “Two Old Friends”)
  • 2000 (Nominee): Best Spoken Word Album (for “Merle Haggard’s My House Of Memories – For The Record”)

Academy of Country Music Awards:

  • 2014: Crystal Milestone Award
  • 2009: Poet’s Award
  • 2007 (Nominee): ACM Award, Vocal Event of the Year (for “Politically Incorrect” with Gretchen Wilson, John Rich, and Mark Wright)
  • 2006: Triple Crown Award
  • 1999 (Nominee): ACM Award, Vocal Event of the Year (for “Same Old Train” with Ricky Skaggs, Randy Travis, and Patty Loveless)

Other Honors:

  • Inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame (1977)
  • Inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame (1994)
  • Inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame (1997)
  • Kennedy Center Honors (2010)
  • BMI Icon Award (2006)

Social Media

  • Instagram: @merlehaggardofficial
  • Facebook: Merle Haggard
  • Twitter: @merlehaggard

Personal Life

Merle Haggard’s personal life was complex. He was married five times, each bringing unique challenges and joys. His first wife was Leona Hobbs.

They were married from 1956 to 1964 and had four children together: Dana, Marty, Kelli, and Noel. Marty Haggard followed his father’s footsteps and became a country music singer.

Haggard’s second marriage to fellow country singer Bonnie Owens was arguably his most significant. They were married from 1965 to 1978 and recorded a duet album called “Just Between the Two of Us.”

Haggard credited Bonnie with helping him achieve his big break in the music industry, and their duets became some of his most beloved songs. Despite their eventual divorce, Haggard and Owens remained close friends until he died in 2016.

His third wife was Leona Williams, an accomplished singer and songwriter, and they were married from 1978 to 1984. Haggard’s fourth marriage was to Debbie Parret in 1985, but they annulled it in 1991.

His fifth and final wife was Theresa Lane, whom he was married to from 1993 until he died in 2016. They had two children together, Ben and Jenessa.


Merle Haggard Discography:

  • Studio albums: 66
  • Instrumental albums: 5 (featuring his backing band The Strangers)
  • Live and compilation albums: Numerous

Merle Haggard Filmography:

  • Bronco Billy (1980): Haggard played himself in this Clint Eastwood comedy western.
  • The Legend of the Lone Ranger (1981): Haggard contributed music to this television movie.
  • Hickock (1993): Haggard played a supporting role in this TV movie about Wild Bill Hickok.

Net Worth

Merle Haggard was a highly influential figure in country music, known for his unique blend of traditional country and honky-tonk sounds.

He was a prolific songwriter, penning many hits and songs for other artists. In addition to his successful music career, Haggard also had a net worth of $40 million at his death in 2016.

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