Venue: The Grand Ballroom
129 East Fremont
Las Vegas, NV
Show Dates: May 25, 2012
Show Times: 8pm
$40.80 & $77.60
As a performer and a songwriter, Merle Haggard was probably the most important country artist to emerge in the 1960s.
When he was 12 years old, Haggard was given his first guitar by his older brother and he taught himself how to play by listening to records that were laying around the house.
In 1963, Haggard recorded "Sing a Sad Song" for Tally Records. Although Tally had minimal distribution, the record became a national hit, climbing to No. 19 on the country charts early in 1964.
"Sam Hill," Haggard's second single, wasn't as successful, but a duet with Bonnie Owens, the former wife of Buck Owens, called "Just Between the Two of Us" broke into the Top 30. The next year, his version of Liz Anderson's "(My Friends Are Gonna Be) Strangers" broke him into the Top 10 and established him as a budding star.
Capitol Records bought out his contract with Tally and Haggard released "I'm Gonna Break Every Heart I Can," his first single for Capitol, in the fall of 1965. The single wasn't a success, but his next song, "Swinging Doors," was a smash hit, rocketing to No. 5 in the spring of 1966.
Haggard became a genuine country superstar in 1966, with three Top 10 hits, including his first No. 1 song, "The Fugitive" (later retitled "I'm a Lonesome Fugitive").
Haggard's "I Threw Away the Rose" went to No. 3 early in 1967, beginning a remarkable streak of 37 straight Top 10 hits, including an amazing 23 No. 1 singles.
"I Threw Away the Rose" was followed by four straight No. 1 hits -- "Branded Man," "Sing Me Back Home," "The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde" and "Mama Tried."
Haggard released three singles in 1969 and all three reached No. 1. "Okie from Muskogee" cemented the singer's stardom.
Throughout 1971 and 1972, the hits kept coming, including "Soldier's Last Letter," "It's Not Love (But It's Not Bad)" and "I Wonder If They Ever Think of Me." In 1973, his hit streak continued, and he scored his biggest hit, "If We Make It Through December," which peaked at No. 28 on the pop charts.
From 1983 until the beginning of 1985, Haggard continued to score No. 1 hits, including the duet with Willie Nelson, "Pancho and Lefty."
Haggard's fortunes began to change in 1985, as a new breed of singers began to dominate the country charts. He had two Top 10 hits in 1986 and 1987's "Chill Factor" was a success, spawning the Top 10 title track and "Twinkle, Twinkle Lucky Star," which would prove to be his last No. 1 hit.
In 1990, he signed with Curb Records, but he continued to have trouble reaching the charts; 1994 spawned his last Top 60 hit, "In My Next Life." Haggard then signed with Anti, a subsidiary of the Epitaph punk-pop label. His first effort for Anti was released in late 2000. Titled "If I Could Only Fly," the acoustic album was greeted with strong reviews. In October 2005, Haggard released his album "Chicago Wind" to mostly positive reviews." He released another new album,"I Am What I Am," in 2010.