One of the great country music outlaws, Merle Haggard stands as a rebel soul with a swaggering purr and a killer turn of phrase. Raised in Oildale, California, his father's death when Merle was nine resulted in his teenage years being spent in and out of juvenile detention centres. His wild lifestyle continued when he was imprisoned in San Quentin for three years, but he turned his life around upon release and found success when his version of Wyn Stewart's Sing A Sad Song became a small hit in 1963. Alongside Buck Owens, Haggard became key in defining the Bakersfield Sound, a harsher, more raucous, electrified answer to Nashville's country pop slickness, that came seeping out of the honky tonk bars. He became a leading star throughout the 1960s and 1970s, scoring 38 Number 1 hits on the country charts and producing the classics Okie From Muskogee, Mama Tried and The Fightin' Side of Me, but his fame waned in the 1980s with the onset of a new generation of stars. A comeback in 2000 saw him given a new lease of life to reaffirm his status as a hugely influential, bona fide country legend.