Merle Haggard knew the inside of prison cells and box cars as intimately as he did some of the biggest stages in the world. He was a member of country music’s Mount Rushmore, yet he never lost touch with his working-class beginnings.
The singer, who died Wednesday on his 79th birthday at his home near Redding, Calif., had been battling pneumonia in recent months.
“He was my brother, my friend. I will miss him,” said longtime compatriot Willie Nelson.
“We've lost one of the greatest writers and singers of all time,” Dolly Parton said. “His heart was as tender as his love ballads.”
In the ’60s and ’70s he...