This is kind of a test to see what it takes to get a photo inserted into a thread.
This is my friend, my late great pal, Merle Haggard in my 1912 red touring car. He ain't smiling because he was still numb as I did some work on him before he came out to the ranch.
Hope the photos work. I have an "apart" but almost complete car (1913 frame and everything else… may make a 1912 rather than a 13) that I am going to post to see what y'all experts think it would be worth… That will be forthcoming after this post if successful!
Best country music singer ever.
Here I am again mixing misery and gin
Sitting with all my friends and talking to myself.
I look like I'm having a good time but any fool can tell
that this honkey tonk heaven sure can make you feel like hell
You "did some work on him"???
Yeah... One time he needed a tissue tag removed. I told him it was no big deal. He said "Well, that's major surgery!!" I said, "Merle, it is easy.. I just get the area a little numb and the take it off quick." He said, 'You do know what major surgery is, right?"
I said..., knowing Merle well... "Sure, it is.... " then I stopped and said "OK Merle.. I'll bite... what is it?" He said "When it's happening to me!"
Oh, Merle and I had a great and intricate history together. He often said I saved his career. I don't know if that is true, but I was able to help him so much that he thought so. And that was good enough for me, to believe him. One of the most satisfying things I have done in my career.
It's a long and interesting story. But alas, the Government has saved us from ourselves... HIPPA will not allow me to go into the details even though he has passed on. But be that as it may, he was vocal about some of it, in general terms, and even spoke of it in the Wall Street Journal and other magazines along the way.
Merle was one incredible fellow, honest, funny, caring, kind, helpful to others, and just what you thought he was, he was. Right up front and decent. A rare thing in celebrity I think. In my early years I was connected with Paul Anka.. he was my producer and manager. He was really great until he wasn't. He's got that rep. in the background. Merle, on the other hand, he was the best.
One time I was driving him out to my ranch, at night time and it was snowing. I was driving a nice Audi S4 Avant and I like to drive in the snow.. studs on all 4 tires. So I was going along at a good clip and Merle piped up and said "Is there any reason why we are going faster than we want to go?" Haha... just like him to understate and by doing so he got the point across perfectly. Naturally I slowed down... a bit.. ;o)
We actually did a song together, one I wrote about a guy in the Pony Express. Google Michael W Herndon/Merle Haggard and you can hear it. No, I am nobody in the music world, but I've been at it a long time just the same. Merle's band was blown away that he agreed to sing with me because he was asked all the time to do that with famous people and he usually declined. But we had a special friendship that I will cherish to the end.
The world really lost something special when Merle passed away. Here is a photo of Merle holding my dog Merley (named after Merle of course) in front of my recording studio live room.
Here's the clip. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp6aZZ2YXRA
Very neat. Some of the members of Merle's band had a jam session at my place in Folsom just before they played a gig in Auburn in the early 80s. It was a reunion of sorts with a few of the guys and Tiny Moore, who played with Merle in the early days and who I met when we both taught music at Jacks House of Music over 50 years ago.
Years ago n(20 something) I was going to restore Merle's Fairmont Railway Car (Merle was a major railfan) and I went up to the ranch to pick it up. He just happened to be home when I did that, so came out and talked while I was loading it. Got it loaded and then o remembered that I needed some "Before" Pictures for documentation, So I just said, "Oh, I forgot to get a picture" thinking nothing about it. Merle, said, "Of Course" And posed with my wife (who was along for the trip). Well I wasn't going to tell him that wasn't what I meant, so I took the picture and thanked him!
Unfortunately the shop had to be closed down before we started the project, so I took it back--on the day after his Manager died; they didn't even know I was coming with the car. That was a sad time there.
The knowing look on the Dog's face is Priceless!!
They even changed a name of a street up by the Bakersfield airport to Merle Haggard Drive. You will see it if you are driving north or south on Interstate 5.
Well, Larry, I have a short story regarding the street sign:
Merle told me that Bakersfield wanted to name a street after him. He said, laughing, that they wanted to name it after him but to do so he had to pay for the signs. He asked me if he should do it so I asked him how much was it going to cost? He said $35,000. I said, Would that be worth it? He said, Probably. I said, then do it, what the heck. Be nice to have a street in your home town named after you even if Bakersfield is a town under a brown sky.
Not that he was asking my approval of course, but he just wanted to run it by someone and I happened to be the guy. So he paid the money and they put up the signs. We both thought it was rather strange that they would ask him to pay for the signs and agreed that politicians love to spend other people's money.
Here is another funny story: We were at his ranch outside Redding, CA, sitting on his porch with his recording engineer Lou Bradley, and Merle and I were swapping songs, he would play one he wrote and I would play one I wrote. I was blessed to do that with him now and then.
Anyway, he told me that he had been asked to come to Sweden and play 4 concerts for 4 million dollars. The kicker was, he had to play the concerts with only him and a guitar... no band. He was uncomfortable with that as he always played live with his band. To go out with only you and a guitar is a different animal as there is nothing to sit within, only stark "You" out there with all your potential mistakes, etc. (I have some recordings I did of him with only him and a guitar and they are so, so good. I tried hard to get him to come down and record an album with just me doing the engineering and him with a guitar, solo. He at one point was ready to do it but things got in the way and it never happened. He told me that Willie was urging him to do the same thing. But in the end, he never did it. There may be some takes of him solo in his archives, and probably are as he was recording in his studios all the time, but I be they will never see the light of day... too bad, eh?)
Again, he asked me if he should do it. I said "Of course, Merle. At this point in your career people would only love you more if you made mistakes, love you more for the rawness of it." Then I went on and said "Look, I'll tell you what. We can go together. I will play for 15 minutes and you can play for 45 minutes. That makes each concert shorter for you and I'll make more mistakes than you and it will make you look even better. You just give me one of those million dollars and it is a deal. What do you say?"
He laughed pretty good at that... but alas, he did not go do it. I brought that up to him again a few months before he died and he said that the deal with the Swedes was still on the table and of course I told him that I was still on with the deal. I was kidding of course. But then, if he would have gone for it I surely would have gone with him! ;o)
Pretty cool. Good to know the "human" side of folks we usually only see in the "media". Even better to see that the human side is pleasant and good. Thanks for letting us know more about what a genuine & great guy that Merle was/is. To me, it will make his music sound even better.
I sent two photos of Merle when he was kind of haggard. So here are two of him all perky and nice. One with dancing with his daughter and one with me and Marty Stuart who also is one heck of a nice genuine guy. I hope I don't offend anyone posting these pictures. I am NOT tooting my horn as my horn is not much of a toot, just a little phweet.. This is about the other guys, not me. I just thought some of you might enjoy them. I thought the photo that I took of Merle and Janessa was really sweet.
I just listened to "just do it" and was blown away. It's a fantastic song and it blends perfectly with the music I listen to in my shop, here in the mountains of West Virginia. What a great experience you had getting to know such an American icon.
Well, James, you ever want the whole record (although Merle only sings with me on Just Do It...), private email me with an address and I will send you one. Some of the best players on the planet are on that record. Not talking about me, of course. I just have great friends that like my songs. I do it for posterity. I spend most of my time with music in a recording studio. One of the reasons I am getting ready to sell all but one of my Ts. LIfe is getting on and I only have time for what means the most to me from now on.
I'll be posting the cars as the weeks go by. But anyone wants a record I will send it. If you don't like it, and you get stuck out in the sticks with your T, you can use it to flash signal help. ;o)
Oh, and it means the most to me that you liked the song. I tried to get Merle to shop it to NIKE and told him we could split the royalties but he never went down that path. Dang! ;o)
What happened to the doors for your 1912?
What a coincidence, I was listening to 'the fightin' side of me' when I started reading this.
Larry, there are not front doors on this body. I am told that they all had four doors. Well, I have not taken the wood lining off where the hinges should be (I am assuming they would be on the back aspect of the front door opening) but without doing that, there is no evidence that there were hinges there for front doors.
Bottom line: I dunno....
They are hinged to the front and would attach to an accompanying cowl / filler panel that is also not shown on your car:
Thanks… Now I get it. Well, I guess it is not complete without the doors!
I thought some were made with no doors? What is the difference with a "slab side"? Exactly what does that mean?
I am constantly amazed at variety of people we have here on the forum. I wouldn't be surprised if even a homeless person or the Lord himself might be among us!
Michael, Thanks for posting your story and fab pictures!
To tie this back to the Ts, here is the same dog, Merley, as a puppy in my '27TT. He has grown up around these old cars!
Playing some stuff at his home and then Merle and Theresa walking away to their bus, leaving the Spirit of the Sun Ranch, my place where all the old cars are. Kind of a sad photo now… Pardon my little tribute to a good friend gone. Sometimes I get the Workin' Man Blues thinking about it.
What a nice tribute to Merle. What a fitting last photo. Kinda makes a fellow want to play George Jones' "Who's gonna fill their shoes".
The world lost a great talent....you lost a good friend.
We're all poorer for the loss, but richer for him having been among us.