Well, this is a side of Sturgill Simpson we haven’t seen for a while. Last week, the ACM created a new award called the ‘Merle Haggard Spirit Award’ that was said to honor the contributions of Haggard by acknowledging artists who exemplify his uncompromising integrity and “singular vision in carving an indelible path in country music.”
His new album I’m Not The Devil is an ambitious, unwavering, slow and plodding volley of songwriting body blows that makes no apologies, incorporates no compromises, and gives no quarter to those with open hearts that love to listen to music that makes them swoon with one emotional onslaught after another, all served in a down home deep-fried country style.
One of the most creatively-rambunctious artists in the history of country music, a well-respected and prolific songwriter, and one of the best friends artists like Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard ever had, has passed away. Freddy Powers, known for so many contributions, but known best as an aficionado of country jazz passed away on Tuesday, June 21st.
Every year we mark the passing of music legends in country music and beyond, but 2016 has been an especially dark year for the passing of music greats. From Prince and David Bowie in the pop and rock world, to Merle Haggard and Guy Clark in country, to the dozens of others who may have not been as well-known, but still had a great impact on American music.
As Merle was suffering from complications due to a double pneumonia and was in a hospital recovering, he would pen what would become his final song, “Kern River Blues.” Even though Merle was barely strong enough to sing, he put out the effort to record the song at his “Hag” studio with his full band.
Merle Haggard is gone, but he won’t be forgotten in the town he helped put on the map with one of his signature songs. Muskogee, Oklahoma is looking to erect not one statue of the country music legend, but two of them in the aftermath of his passing on April 6th.
Usually it’s only once or twice a year that music media is faced with the dilemma of how to adequately and respectfully cover the passing of a high profile music celebrity. In 2016, it has been more like once or twice a month. In fact the frequency of seismic music deaths has been a story unto itself.
Now that Merle Haggard has passed on, Kris Kristofferson is one of the few remaining links to country music’s most iconic era of classic songwriting. Kristofferson has also been candid about his struggles with deepening memory loss, so any new recordings should be considered a treasure.
Today most well-informed country fans know what a death sentence a Curb Records contract can be for an artist, at least for most of them. But in 1990 when Merle Haggard signed with the label, Curb was seen as one of the most trustworthy labels in town. They didn’t have to answer to higher ups in New York and Los Angeles, and could pass that freedom on to their artists.
Merle Haggard is gone, but he won’t be forgotten. A week after his death, word has come down that a motion picture about his life is in the works. GMH Productions has optioned a script about the life of Merle Haggard called “Done It All,” written by screenwriter Cliff Hollingsworth who is best known for writing the critically-acclaimed motion picture “Cinderella Man.”
Randy Houser may want to spend more time perfecting his faux hawk instead of speaking his mind after he put his foot in his mouth in a recent interview with radio.com (see below). The co-writer of “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk” and the close friend of Bro-Country Godfather Dallas Davidson decided to go on the offensive against Bro-Country haters.
Though Merle Haggard is no longer around to record and release new music, that doesn’t mean there isn’t unheard, unreleased recordings waiting to be unearthed for the public in the future. As is often the case with music artists who pass away, unreleased Merle Haggard music remains vaulted away, either as leftovers and outtakes from previous recording sessions, or in Merle’s case, purposely stashed away…
The story from W. Earl Brown about Toby Keith and Merle has now been shared on Facebook nearly 100,000 times, and websites like Taste of Country and others have picked it up. But despite it being a touching tribute to Merle and a great story, the Mandalay Bay concert with Toby Keith was not the final concert Merle Haggard ever played as is being reported.
Are the lives of celebrities any more special than our own, and is their passing any more tragic than the common, unheralded people who pass every single day without as much as a word beyond loved ones, or a tiny blurb in a local paper? In short, no they’re not. But that’s also what made Merle Haggard special. He was the embodiment of America’s forgotten: the poor, the imprisoned, the wrongfully accused…
On his 79th birthday, one of the most legendary performers in country music history has died. According to numerous sources, Merle Haggard passed away this morning, April 6th. This story is developing, and Saving Country Music will keep you abreast via continued updates as details emerge and remembrances pour in.
Touring and Merle Haggard have been an interesting proposition lately, ever since he was diagnosed with a double pneumonia back in December. It’s been on again, and off again. As soon as you hear it’s on, he cancels a show last minute due to heath. Then when you hear he’s still recovering, all of a sudden he decides to play a few dates. This has left some fans confused and frustrated, and many concerned.
For the second time in four months, a writer for the Dallas Observer has taken a completely ridiculous and incorrect premise, hindered by a perspective on country music that is very much from the outside looking in, and built it into an irresponsible think piece that shreds the truth and frames anyone who would have the audacity to care about country music as a feckless, misguided moron.
When Saving Country Music started nearly nine years ago, the media rarely talked about country legends. They were relics forgotten in time that weren’t worth wasting website space on because few people cared, and the ones who did weren’t online. Now that your mother and grandmother all have Facebook pages and smartphones, country legends and their regular health ailments are the stuff of clickbait dreams for viral farms.
Mary Sarah is an unusual case when it comes to mainstream country prospects. On the surface, you have this gorgeous young woman with lots of styling, pizzazz, and stage presence, seasoned from performing since a very early age, like a pop country star ready to go out of the box. But what does she decide to do with her debut album? She releases a duets record with country legends.
Similar to the Gershwin Brothers, Willie Nelson transcends genre and era. Willie reprises “Someone to Watch Over Me,” and ten other Gershwin tunes on his latest release Summertime—a stylized and smooth journey back to the classical era of pop, yet still mostly defined by Willie’s signature warble and nylon string tone.
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Saving Country Music reached out to the respective estates and managers of the artists affected to confirm use of the likeness was unauthorized, and that the artists were receiving no money. “This product is not authorized at all,” says Kirk West, the Business Manager for the George Jones Estate. “They need to remove this product and never use George Jones name again or I will sue them.”
The mood has swung from concern, to anger, and back to concern by some fans because dates were canceled last minute, and other dates that were announced as canceled ended up being played. But according to the Merle Haggard camp, everything is okay, the sky isn’t falling, and everything will soon return back to normal.
Later it was announced by Haggard’s publicist that all February dates would be canceled to aid Merle’s continued recovery. The publicist said Merle was “still feeling weak from his recent struggle with double pneumonia and has decided to seek further treatment.” But apparently tour plans have changed yet again.
Merle Haggard was forced to cancel his show Tuesday night (2-2) at the Fox Performing Arts Center in Riverside, California last minute after he was too sick to take the stage. The show was a makeup date for a performance originally scheduled for December 3rd that Merle was forced to cancel with all of his December shows due to a double pneumonia.