by Paula Bosse
Merle and Lefty, in Corsicana
by Paula Bosse
The great Merle Haggard died today, on his 79th birthday. My earliest music memories are hearing his songs on the radio. Even people who don’t listen to country music know who Merle Haggard is (and are probably fans).
One of his idols was Lefty Frizzell, the Corsicana-born legend whose first hits were recorded in Dallas. Merle helped raise the funds in the late ’80s and early ’90s for the wonderful statue of Lefty which now stands in Jester Park in Corsicana. The picture above shows Merle visiting the statue. (Whenever I’m in Corsicana, I always drop by Jester Park to spend some time with Lefty.)
As far as Merle and Dallas, the earliest mention I could find was from January, 1965. Country music was covered only sporadically in the pages of The Dallas Morning News back then, but his early-’65 stop at the Sportatorium may have been Merle’s first appearance in Dallas — appropriately enough, it was at the Big D Jamboree. “California country music team” Merle and Bonnie Owens were guest performers, along with Billy Grammer and James O’Gwynn of the Grand Ole Opry, and the regular Jamboree cast of thirty, for the Jan. 30, 1965 Saturday-night Big D Jamboree show.
RIP, Merle. Thanks for everything.
The top picture is a photo I took of an original photograph which is hanging in the Lefty Frizzell Museum, which is also in Corsicana’s Jester Park (as part of the Pioneer Village).
Merle’s obituary in Variety — which includes entertaining salty quotes from the man himself — is here.
Copyright © 2016 Paula Bosse. All Rights Reserved.