The ever-changing legacy of Merle Haggard, California’s first country superstar

Merle haggard
Merle haggard

Nearly eight years after his death, the legacy of country superstar Merle Haggard, who did time in San Quentin Prison before going on to become the face of a music genre and be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, is still thriving in his hometown of Bakersfield. 

A road and a post office now bear his name. His distinctive features stare out from several murals across the city. And the Kern County Museum is preparing an exhibit on the distinctive sound that Haggard created, complete with the boxcar home he grew up in. 

It’s all a long way from Haggard’s humble beginnings as a restless youth who frequently got in trouble with the law.

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