After his parents moved from Oklahoma, Merle Ronald Haggard was born in Oildale, California in a house which his father had converted from a railroad boxcar. He taught himself guitar after one had been given to him when he was 12. During his teen years and early twenties, he spent time in jail for a variety of offenses, but was able to earn the equivalent of a high diploma while incarcerated. After his release in 1960, he launched his music career. Some of his earlier hits included Okie From Muskogee and The Fightin' Side Of Me. Haggard has been married five times, and had four children with his first wife and two with his fifth.
Read more at Taste Of Country, TMZ, Entertainment Weekly and Variety. The TMZ article includes videos of Haggard performing the two songs mentioned above, the first as a duet with Willie Nelson.
During the latter part of his career, Haggard collaborated with other artists, such as Gretchen Wilson with Politically Uncorrect.