Merle Haggard was one of country music’s greats who died in April 2016. On Nov. 2 at the CMAs, his son Ben Haggard took the stage to pay tribute to his father with one of his greatest hits! So, who is Merle’s talented son?
1. Ben Haggard is the son of Theresa Lane and the late Merle Haggard.
Ben is the youngest son of country music legend, Merle Haggard. Merle married Theresa Ann Lane in 1993. She was his fifth wife, but their marriage lasted until his death on April 6, 2016. Merle always said that marrying Theresa was the greatest decision he ever made and would joke that people often thought he was Ben’s grandfather.
2. Ben is an incredible musician!
Ben’s voice is quite similar to his father’s unique, country, Americana twang. While he covers several of his father’s songs, he once posted to Twitter, “No, I’m not Merle… I’m Ben. A reflection of him but different in my own way.”
3. Ben has been a part of his father’s band for eight years and was a regular on his recordings!
Ben is the lead guitarist of his father’s band, the Strangers. Merle Haggard and the Strangers performed until Hag’s died from pneumonia in April 2016. Ben continues play with the Strangers and has kept his father’s legacy alive. Along with his brother Noel, Ben and the Strangers have opened for Hag’s longtime friend and touring partner Willie Nelson and friend Kris Kristofferson since Merle’s passing. Ben said his father told him, “You’d be an idiot not to take my guitar and my bus, not to sing my songs for as long as you can… Go out there and play until there’s nobody to play to.” That’s exactly what he’s done.
4. Ben is writing his own music and plans to break out on his own.
“‘Son, you’ve got to create your own thunder,'” Ben said that Merle would tell him growing up. Ben has said he is now writing his own music and completing songs. While his sound, like his father’s was, is different from contemporary country music, he said it’s been honesty that’s been pushing him to finish songs. When he completes his album, he plans to produce it with Americana singer/producer Sturgill Simpson.
5. Ben opened the 2016 CMA Awards with Vince Gill, performing his father’s song!
Ben jammed out on the guitar while Vince Gill sang Merle Haggard’s first token 1968 single “Mama Tried” during the opening medley at the 50th anniversary CMA Awards. Ben is no stranger to performing his father’s song, though! When he performs, Ben does he own versions of his father’s songs, such as “Sing Me Back Home,” “Heaven Was A Drink Of Wine,” and “Workin’ Man Blues.”
HollywoodLifers, what did you think of Ben’s CMA tribute to his father? Let us know!