By Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times
“Sing a Sad Song,” Merle Haggard has passed away. Tonight, “The Bottle Let Me Down.”
My first portrait session with country music legend Merle Haggard was on May 31, 2004 at the Muddy Moose Bar in Studio City, Calif. My images were part of a series called the, “Songwriters,” series by former Los Angeles Times Pop Music Critic Robert Hilburn.
Haggard showed up 3 hours late due to a dispute with longtime friend Willie Nelson. “However long you need,” he said once arriving. At the end of our shoot he wrote his name, home address and home phone number on the back of his agent’s business card. “If you’re ever in the neighborhood, I’ll buy you a beer,” he said.
Five years later I found myself at the front door of Haggard’s home in Palo Cedro, California for another story with Los Angeles Times music writer Randy Lewis. I knocked, he answered. “Hey Merle, remember me? I said handing him the old business card and reminding him of his promise. He smiled and said, “Come on in. I got a cold one for you.”