Country Music Artist Merle Haggard, the man whose songs like “Fighting Side of Me” and “Okie from Muskogee" and "Fightin' Side of Me" resonated with the working class throughout his music career has died at the age of 79.   Ironically the singer died on his birthday from complications from pneumonia in his Northern California home on Wednesday. 

Haggard had over 3 dozen No. 1 hits on the country charts over six decades and was a big part of developing “the Bakersfield sound.”  In his youth Haggard was a small time petty criminal and served time in prison which help sell his outlaw image when his music career began.   Haggard’s songs described the life that he led, his song “I think I will stay here and drink” represented the party lifestyle that Haggard enjoyed.  The singer was married five times and toured constantly.  The singer struggled with alcohol and drugs throughout his career and failed marriages yet had a deep appreciation for the gifts of his musical talents he felt was a blessing.  Haggard is survived by his seven children.