Merle Haggard Had 4 Sons…And They All Are Country Singers
Country Road TV / YouTube, Ben Haggard / YouTube, Scott Haggard / YouTube, Ben Haggard / YouTube
Merle Haggard is known as one of the most influential country singers of all time. He had countless hits, along with a plethora of honors and awards, including a Kennedy Center Honor in 2010, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006, a BMI Icon Award, and is a member of the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the Country Music Hall of Fame.
The country music legend passed away on his 79th birthday, April 6, 2016, surrounded by family and friends at his ranch in Shasta County, California.
Throughout his life, he was married five times. In 1956, he married Leona Hobbs and they had four children together – Dana, Marty, Kelli, and Noel – before divorcing in 1964. A year later, he wed singer Bonnie Owens and they were married for 13 years. They remained on friendly terms and she was even the maid of honor at his third wedding in 1978 to Leona Williams. His marriage to Williams lasted five years. In 1985, he married Debbie Parret, but they got a divorce in 1991.
In 1993, he married Theresa Ann Lane and their love story was one for the books. They were married until his 2016 death and had two children – Jenessa and Ben – together. Theresa often sang backup for her husband during his live shows.
While most fans know about his six children from two of his marriages, he actually does have a seventh child, a son named Scott. Like Merle’s other sons, Scott has forged a career in music, often paying tribute to his legendary father.
Let’s meet all of Merle’s talented sons.
Marty Haggard – Born June 18, 1958
Before dedicating his life to music, Marty actually started his professional career in another corner of the entertainment career. He landed a recurring acting role as a teen on the CBS show The Fitzpatricks and a small part in a Henry Fonda film.
After that, he charted five singles on the Hot Country Country Songs between the years 1981 and 1987, the first being “Charleston Cotton Mill.”
His father asked him to join his road band, The Strangers, in the 80s and Marty sang harmonies and played rhythm guitar. Marty’s solo career earned him a Top Male Vocalist ACM Award nomination in 1985!
Since his father’s passing, he hit the road with his brothers to continue their father’s legacy.
Noel – Born September 4, 1963
If you’ve ever heard the 2003 George Strait hit “Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa,” you can thank the Haggard family! Merle released the original version on his 1986 album Out Among the Stars and Noel released his as the second single from his 1991 debut album. Noel’s version peaked at number 74 on the charts.
Noel toured with his father and brothers as a member of The Strangers as well.
Scott Haggard – Born December 1968
Scott didn’t grow up with the Haggard family, although he always knew he was Merle Haggard’s son. He graduated high school and became a truck driver, but in 2006 he decided to pursue country music full time.
Since then, he has headlined with many country music greats, including Mark Wills, Jeff Bates, and Charlie McCoy. Scott does write his own songs, but during a performance at the Ross County Jamboree in 2012, he decided to honor his father by singing a cover of his song “Silver Wings.”
Ben Haggard – Born December 14, 1992
The youngest of Merle’s sons, Ben might be the most well-known. Despite his young age, for many years up until Merle’s death, Ben played lead guitar in The Strangers.
Ben’s made a name for himself among his father’s fans and has gained lots of fans on his own. Even before his dad passed away, he was posting videos of himself on YouTube and Facebook covering classic country songs, as well as gospel songs like “Amazing Grace.”
Since Merle’s death, Ben and his brothers finished out their dad’s tour dates and even added more. They actually got some help from their father’s legendary friend Kris Kristofferson.
Watch the videos below to see the Haggard boys perform together.